Idly flicking through the Lidl ‘Luxury for All” brochure, I noticed that they were selling their excellent West Cork crab meat as part of their all-encompassing benevolence. I read this out to the assemblage and eldest daughter asked what I would cook with it. “Crab cakes with chili sauce would be nice.” came my reply.
Goading daughter: “Pahhh, what a cop-out. Do something adventurous. Do a crab soufflé. That is…, if you are able to.”
Manly father: “I’ve never cooked a soufflé before. I understand they can be tricky.”
Goading daughter: “You aren’t man enough to cook a crab soufflé.”
That was it, of course. Like a crab to a barnacle on a piece of string, I rose to the bait. I undertook to cook West Cork Crab Soufflé with Toast and Mixed Leaf Salad. How do I let myself be backed into these things?
To add insult to her injurious goading, on the evening that I cooked the crab soufflé, eldest daughter rang home to say that she could (or would) not eat with us. So, you are going to have to take my word for how things worked out. First, my ingredients shot. You have to notice and admire the hen egg holder in the background. A present that I have undertaken to feature where appropriate. Keep an eye out for her.
Now the list:
- 100 g of crab meat
- A small handful of dill
- A red chili
- 200ml of milk
- 20g of butter plus extra to butter the ramekin dishes
- 20g of flour
- 80g of Gruyère cheese
- 3 eggs
- Generous pinch of hot paprika
- Salt and pepper
- Some breadcrumbs
Despite the vindictiveness of GD, there is not a lot to making the soufflé. Rub the insides of the ramekins with butter. I started out to do six and ended up doing 5 despite making up enough for four, if you can follow that logic? Then sprinkle them with breadcrumbs.
Chop the chili and dill. Then add it to the crab meat. Then add a pinch of hot paprika.
Separate the eggs and add the yokes to the crab meat mixture. Mix it up.
Put the butter, flour and milk in a saucepan and heat it. Stir until you have a thick white sauce.
Masculine side note: Men, please note that women have put it about that you have to do far more complicated things to get a decent white sauce. This is not true. Put the three ingredients in the pot and stir. That’s all you need to do.
When the sauce is made, add the grated Gruyère and stir until it has been absorbed.
Let this cool for a bit. Use the time wisely. Whisk the egg whites into stiff peaks. Time for an action shot, I think:
Next, fold a small amount of the egg white into the crab meat mixture. Be sure to do it this way or you will end up with flat soufflé.
Spoon it into the ramekin dishes and place them gently into a bain marie.
Masculine side note 2: Men, a bain marie is a water bath. Get the beauties in up to over half way. This allows them cook slowly and evenly.
Gently place the bath in a 180 degree C oven. Close the door gently and leave them to cook themselves over the next 35 minutes or so.
Take them out when they have risen and are nice and brown on top. Use the 35 minutes to prepare a simple salad and to toast some bread.
GD will have to face me at some point. By then, I will probably have forgiven her. In fact, I already have. This lovely soufflé was my first attempt. It will not be my last.