Devon Brown Crab (Cancer Pagurus) is stupendously good and arguably the best in the world! The people of Salcombe in South Devon celebrate this fact each year in May at the Salcombe Crab Festival and it’s all in aid of charity. This year it’s on the Sunday the 6th and we’re going so I’ll update this blog on Sunday and give you a taste. Can’t wait!
There’s nothing more enjoyable than sitting by the Devon coast leisurely eating a whole Devon crab with a glass of crisp white wine and all the time in the world – it’s the essence of slow food. These days, the crab sandwich has become hugely popular but I favour the crab savoury. Savouries were little treats served as a final course at dinner to ‘cleanse the palate’ before the bottle of port and the sojourn to the card tables, so popular in the 19th century. I like to surprise my family with savouries before dinner and they go mad for them. Crab toasts are one of the best – a simple dish but a perfect one that allows the crab to shine.
Take some good white bread, sliced very thin. Cut off the crusts and cut each slice diagonally to create triangles. Toast until golden brown and crisp (the best way to do this evenly is on a grill tray in the oven). Butter generously while hot so the butter soaks into the toasted bread. Spread thinly with brown crab meat, then pile generously with white crab meat. Season with salt, pepper and a grate of fresh nutmeg. Serve immediately while the toast is still warm.
Crab fishing has always been a specialty of Devon. In the past families would make their own ‘inkwell’ pots in the winter from willow grown locally along the coast. The pots were baited with fresh fish secured with a wooden skewer and lasted about a year. The men would go out to sea and the women would help sell the catch. The pots are no longer hand-made from willow but the industry is still run by small family businesses who fish sustainably, so go get some crab!
Crab Linguine – add a few fennel seeds and chilli for a bit of kick.
Kitchenalia Cartoons can also be seen in Devon Life Magazine – the Devon county magazine (UK) offering hundreds of pages of articles and superb photography every month.