Thursday, 8 September 2011

The Ship Inn, Porthleven

Crab Thermidor

I have just returned from a long weekend in Cornwall with my family, to the same place we have been going for 20 years. It never seems to change and I can still muster (almost) the same level of excitement about jumping into the ice cold sea as I did when I was seven! It is absolutely my favourite place in the world and, as ever, it broke my heart to leave (check out the picture below and I think you'll unnderstand what I mean!). This year though, I plan to bring the best bits back with me and in this case the number one best bit was the crab thermidor that I had at The Ship Inn in Porthleven.

We always walk the five miles to Porthleven from our house to make up for the fact that we are going to be truly glutinous at the other end! Although the menu at The Ship is quite broad, for us Pedders, there are only two choices; crab thermidor or crab an prawn mornay.

Having made a mental note to self that I had had the mornay last year, I decided to “branch out” and get the thermidor this year. Both are delicious and almost impossible to choose between, but the thermidor was so packed with fresh Cornish crab and the sauce was so mild and creamy, that I certainly didn’t regret my choice which is quite something for me as I am prone to suffer from extreme food envy!

I know that a big part of the flavour in these dishes comes from the fact that the crab is barely out of the sea, but you can buy good quality crab at the fish counter in supermarkets nowadays and I really think that the only thing to snap me out of my holiday blues is to have a bash at this thermidor and dream myself back there...


500g white crab meat
Knob of butter
1 shallot, finely chopped
100ml single cream
50ml water
1teaspoon whole grain mustard
2tablespoons chopped parsley
2teaspoons lemon juice
Grated cheese (something mild like gruyere or edam)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

  1. For the sauce, put the butter in a pan, add the shallots and cook until softened. Add the wine, water and single cream and bring to the boil. Reduce by approximately half.
  2. Add the mustard, herbs, lemon juice and seasoning and stir.
  3. Pre-heat the grill.
  4. Put the crab meat in an oven proof dish so that it covers the bottom and there is a healthy layer. Spoon the sauce over the crab meat and sprinkle with the grated cheese. Place the dish under the grill until the cheese is golden brown.
  5. Serve with crusty bread to mop up the sauce.

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