Crab thermidor

By Mat Follas

This is a variation on the spider crab Thermidor I cooked as my MasterChef-winning main dish. This is not a true Thermidor recipe, as we make the sauce using cream, rather than a flour-based roux. The flavour of crab changes throughout the season and so the seasoning for this dish must be adjusted accordingly (tailor the mustard, Tabasco etc).
Serves 2


  • 600ml unreduced Shellfish Stock
  • A few drops of Tabasco sauce
  • 1 teaspoon English mustard powder
  • 60 grated Gruyère cheese
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to season
  • 100ml double/heavy cream
  • 200g white crab meat
  • 200g brown crab meat
  • 4 crab shells (you should be able to buy these from a fishmonger)
  • 100g spinach
  • 100g samphire, woody bits discarded
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges


Put the stock in a saucepan set over a medium heat and simmer until it has reduced by about two-thirds.

Add the Tabasco, English mustard, half of the cheese and a pinch of salt and pepper. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary – it should be a spicy, slightly salty, seafood liquor.

Turn the heat down and add the double/heavy cream, then the crab meat and gently stir together. You should now have a thick stew. Take care not to overcook or overstir it as the crab meat is quite delicate.

Fill each crab shell about a quarter of the way up with spinach leaves, then spoon over the mixture so that the shells are full.

Scatter with the remaining cheese and place the filled shells under a hot grill/broiler for a few minutes until the cheese has melted.

Make a small pile of samphire on each serving plate and place the hot crab shell on top of it. Just before serving, sprinkle the crab with pepper and squeeze fresh lemon juice over the samphire.

Note: Crab meat needs to be handled with care. It should either be kept fridge-cold, or above 70°C (160°F). It’s very important not to leave it sitting out of the fridge for any longer than is necessary.

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