“You aren’t man enough to cook a crab soufflé.”

Crab Soufflé 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.

Crab Soufflé

Crab Soufflé ingredients. I had the shot set up when she rang to cancel so the proportions are different to what you see here.

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.


Ramekins buttered and sprinkled with breadcrumbs. No problem to a man like me.

Chop the chili and dill. Then add it to the crab meat. Then add a pinch of hot paprika.

Crab Soufflé

The main flavour ingredients coming together.

Separate the eggs and add the yokes to the crab meat mixture. Mix it up.

Crab Soufflé

Still no threat to my masculinity in any of this stuff. Pity she was not here to see it.

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.

Crab Soufflé

The cheese almost completely absorbed by the smooth white sauce.

Let this cool for a bit. Use the time wisely. Whisk the egg whites into stiff peaks. Time for an action shot, I think:

Crab Soufflé

Forgive me only showing one shot of the egg whisking. Difficult to whisk the egg, hold the bowl and take the pictures. If GD were here, she could have held the bowl…

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.

Crab Soufflé

This bit requires gentle folding to avoid flattening the mixture. A delicate yet manly touch is required.

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.

Crab Soufflé

The Crab Soufflés in their water bath, about to go into the oven.

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.

Crab Soufflé

Believe it or not, this soufflé had risen about 5cm (2″) higher than in the shot. It was awesome and manly. Though it did sag a bit before I could photograph it. (No jokes please.)

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.

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Latest comments
  • You should get a bit of color into your photography Conor. I recognise that hen by the way!

    • The hen now lives on top of the fridge Wes. She is already planned for a starring role in later posts.

  • Gorgeous and manly 🙂

    • Thanks Rosemary. A nice vote of confidence.

  • Pure torture sending that out so early, making me very hungry indeed!

    • Sorry Brian, I posted an hour earlier than usual today as part of my ongoing experiment with timing and posting day. Do try it. Worth the effort.

  • SO very manly … and tasty too 🙂

    • Thank you. Manly is vital. Tasty is not quite as important but it helps.

  • That looks delicious, it has given me the munchies! I love crab, Union Hall in West Cork always produces great crab meat!

    • You nip down to Union Hall and grab one for me please. Please!!!

  • Looks great, Conor! Souffles will always deflate no matter what you do, the only thing to do is to serve straight from the oven. Did the cheese work with the crab?
    Interesting technique to make bechamel. Have to try that…

    • Thanks Stefan, The whole combination was excellent. I think the chili helped tie it all together.

  • Real men can cook souffles! Well done 🙂 Looks freakin’ delicious!

    • Thanks. I feel more manly as I read these replies….

  • Hey this looks fantastic! Daughters can be soooo mean… When will my father (or anyone?) make these for me?? Yum!

    • They are only mean on the surface. Deep down they love me. Or, so they say.

  • Excellent work!
    I always do cheese the hard way, but I do remember seeing Fanny Cradock making it the easy way, so you are in good company 😉

    • Showing your age there MD…. Though, I remember her as a girl. Her, not me.

  • Conor
    As always, looking damn tasty as well as amusing and beautifully shot. I think it might have increased your manliness too. You’ll be making un-ironic fairy cakes next.

    • Possibly un-fairy ironic cakes…

      • I bet you could openly eat quiche without insisting it’s called egg & bacon flan. Foody fancies of any type hold no fear for you, no doubt.

        • Not when one is as comfortable in one’s sexuality as I am!

  • Absolutely lovely Conor! My take is that the secret ingredient is being a manly man! Like the touch with the chili! Now if I could get my husband to eat crab…..

    • There you go again Barb. Husband trouble!

  • Only real men cook soufflés. Great job, Conor! The crab meat looks so good. Love the ceramic hen, too.

    • Thanks Tommy. Very manly of you. Wes, who supplied the hen at Christmas will be pleased too.

  • Conor,
    You are really a pro at this food posting business. I love how your daughter taunted you then bailed out on dinner. It looks like she missed one hell of a meal! I love your hen egg holder. Recently at the local Sur la Table the man tried to sell us small hen egg holders for soft boiled eggs. We laughed at him as we bought boring white porcelain versions and now I wish I had bought them to go on a photo exchange with you 🙂
    Great stuff sir!

    • Hi Michael, How is it going. Great to see you stopping by here again. You should have got the gaudy ones! White ceramic will eventually go out of fashion. The hen has the advantage of never, ever going into fashion!

      • great comment. I apologize for being absent. This self-employed writer/photographer thing has me in a spin at times and I neglect the very cool writers out there who have supported my work. Ireland is on our radar for this year and when we pull the trigger on it you will be the 1st to know.

        • Brilliant stuff Michael. A welcome on the mat, as you know.

  • This looks so good, I say; of course you are man enough to prepare such a beautiful plate! I really like your hen egg holder in the background of your picture!

    • Thank you. That hen is planned into a couple of upcoming posts too. Look out for her on the day before Pancake Tuesday!

  • I am one of 5 daughters, no amount of goading would work with my dad- I am impressed !

  • As always, looks delish. I am really starting to like your oldest daughter. She makes me laugh 🙂

  • I must be a ‘very female female’! Would have thought you’d get a rather lumpy white sauce . . . Love the chilli and the paprika, so another Conor Bofin masterpiece just has to be copied 🙂 !

    • Copy away Eha, it is pretty easy and tasty. You can do a female version.

      • Would not do it any other way 🙂 ! Stubborn and ‘set’ in my ways! But I have fun with your recipes !!

  • I’ve never made a souffle of any kind and you make it seem so easy and it looks amazing!!!!! I think you have a new twist to your recipes — the “masculine side note” — love it!

    • Thanks Danny, and thanks for the retweet too. That was manly of you!

  • Oh! it is looks like so yummy. I want to eat it.

  • Hear that, Conor? It’s me applauding you. I’ve never tried to make one, fear of failure being the reason. You, Sir, have given me the courage to give one a try. If mine look half as good as yours do, I’ll be very happy. Thanks for the inspiration.

    • Have no fear John. If it does not rise, you can have a tasty crab and cheese omelette.

  • Great job with the soufflé…I’m sure your daughter wishes she could have enjoyed it with you.

    • Hi Karen,
      Truth is she made me do it again. I am my own worst enemy in these matters.

      • That is too funny!

  • I seem to missing emails of your posts. Anyway Lidl must be a differerent commericial beast in Ireland – over here its not known for crabmeat! And the sauce-making instructions are a true inspiration. My March edition of Good Food Magazine has a whole page on making a white sauce…

    • Trust me, milk, flour and butter into the pot at the same time. Heat while stirring and it comes out smooth and white every time. No need for mucking around with anything more complicated. The trick is to let it bubble away a bit to cook the flour. The cheese can be added at that stage. I have been doing it for years for my fish pie sauce.

  • It’s good to explore the light and delicate parts of gastronomy… Keeps you well rounded. Especially since you did such a great job. cheers… wendy

  • Impressive, Conor! Hope GD was man enough to admit that you’re a man 🙂 And nice tip about the sauce, certainly will push me into rustling up saucy dishes now.

    • I don’t think I will ask her about being manly….

  • Well done!

  • Hmmmm…somehow I missed this post. Baby Lady and I are reading this now on a lazy Saturday morning. Looks very manly and wonderfully delicious! She said to tell you that when the hen is ready to fly the coup she can come here. We have a collection of manly roosters in the kitchen who would gladly keep her company. 😉

    • I read this comment on my phone sitting at the top of the Wicklow Mountains trying to get my breath back on a big cycle. “Lazy Saturday morning” indeed. Having made it home, I am in bed early, very early to try and recover. The hen stays!

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