One of my favourite herb combinations is ‘fines herbes’ the wonderful mix of flavour from tarragon, chervil, parsley and chives. A classic dish full of these herbs is a thermidor, of course traditionally made with lobster, but works brilliantly with Cromer crab too. Some may think it is a dated dish but I think it stands the test of time, and is delicious served as a starter or main course.
Serves 4 in either ramekins or individual brulee dishes Ingredients
35g butter 2 banana shallots or a small onion, finely chopped 900ml fish stock 75ml Noilly Prat or dry sherry 120ml double cream ½ teaspoon English mustard 2 teaspoons chopped fresh fines herbes (chervil, tarragon, parsley and chives) 2 teaspoons lemon juice Salt and freshly ground pepper 2-3 cooked and dressed Cromer crabs approx 450g 30g grated alpine cheese or Norfolk Dapple
1. For the sauce, melt the butter in a medium pan. Add the shallots and cook them gently for 3–4 minutes until they are soft but not browned. Add the fish stock, Noilly Prat and half the double cream, bring the pan to the boil and reduce the liquid by three-quarters to about 260ml. Add the rest of the cream and simmer for a couple of minutes until the sauce coats the back of a spoon, then add the mustard, fine herbes and lemon juice. Taste and season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
2. If you are going to serve the thermidors later, stand the sauce to cool at this point. Preheat the grill to the highest heat.
3. Remove the crabmeat from the shells and divide evenly between the dishes, spoon over the sauce and top with grated cheese. Grill for three minutes until golden and bubbling.