Salad of crab, fennel and apple with curried crab mayonnaise

Salad of crab, fennel and apple with curried crab mayonnaise

British Seafood
David Loftus

Crab, fennel, apple and curry work so well together that this combination is on one of the restaurant menus more often than not. The flavours really sing together, creating a beautifully balanced dish – an ideal starter or light lunch.


Quantity Ingredient
1 live brown crab, placed in the freezer an hour before cooking, (see note)
2 tablespoons fennel herb or dill, chopped
4 teaspoons Red wine shallots, see white wine variation
2 fennel bulbs, trimmed (outer layer removed)
olive oil, for cooking
2 apples
4 handfuls pea shoots or small salad leaves
cornish sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Curried crab mayonnaise

Quantity Ingredient
2 egg yolks
brown crabmeat
1 lemon, finely zested and juiced
300ml Curry oil

To serve

Quantity Ingredient
White bread, see fennel seed variation
or good-quality bought bread


  1. Bring a large pan of water to the boil (big enough to submerge the crab). Season the water liberally with sea salt to make it as salty as seawater. When the water comes to a rolling boil, lower the crab into it and cook for 15 minutes.
  2. Carefully lift the crab out of the water, place on a board and leave until cool enough to handle. Prepare and extract the meat from the crab, keeping the brown and white meat separate. Blend the brown crabmeat in a food processor until smooth and set aside for the mayonnaise. Pick through the white meat, removing any shell and cartilage; keep cool.
  3. To make the curried crab mayonnaise, whisk the egg yolks, brown crabmeat, lemon zest and juice together in a bowl and slowly add the curry oil, drop by drop to begin with, then in a steady stream, whisking all the time, to make a thick mayonnaise.
  4. Mix the white crabmeat with 3 tablespoons of the mayonnaise and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the fennel herb or dill and half of the white wine shallots. Fork through the crabmeat. Cover and keep cool until ready to serve.
  5. Cut the fennel into 5 mm dice. Heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat and add a drizzle of olive oil. Add the fennel and cook for 2 minutes without colouring. Transfer to a bowl, season with salt and pepper and allow to cool. Peel, quarter and core the apples and cut into 5 mm dice. Add to the fennel with the remaining white wine shallots. Add a drizzle of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Preheat your grill or a char-grill. Slice the bread and grill on both sides until well toasted. Place the toast on 4 plates and spoon the crab mayonnaise neatly on top. Arrange the fennel and apple mixture over and around the crab toasts and finish with the pea shoots or salad leaves. Serve at once, with the rest of the mayonnaise in a bowl on the side.

Cooking crab

  • I put crabs into the freezer an hour or so before cooking to calm them down. Also, I always try to cook my crabs in sea water, but you can use 50 g salt to 1 litre tap water. Bring your salty water to a fast boil. Take the crab from the freezer and plunge an awl or other sharp pointed tool into one of the two points on its underside to kill it instantly, then plunge it into the boiling water. Once the water comes back to the boil, cook for 15 minutes if the crab is 600 g or less, adding 2 minutes for every extra 100 g. As soon as the crab is cooked, lift it out onto a tray to cool.
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