I have a rule about cooking seafood in my house: I don’t. Quite honestly, I can’t stand the stink. But this weekend I’ll probably fire up my newly assembled backyard barbecue, courtesy of Scott, a Hire a Hubby (laughter here if the mood takes you, but it’s a story for another day) and cook some sort of fish.
Last weekend though, I broke my rule (not the first time I’ve gone contrary to a rule or two), and I funkified the house with the smell of the sea.
After baking a great tart for dinner on Saturday, I trawled the market on Sunday and came away with, among other things (including lots of fresh flowers for the house), some blue swimmer crab meat. The crab cake recipe called for just 200 grams, but the only place I could find crab meat at the market refused to sell any less than a 500-gram pack. (OK, there’s 300 grams in the freezer so I can have a crack again on another day.) I used a Nigella Lawson recipe, which is at the bottom of my blog.
The hardest part was waiting for an hour after mixing the ingredients for them to set in the fridge. Although the recipe called for desiccated coconut, I used the shredded variety (which offered a bit more texture), along with plain flour, chilli, coriander and rice vinegar. And the cakes were meant to be balls, but I said balls to that and I flattened them with the help of an egg ring. The preparation and cooking time was only about 15 minutes (the hour in the fridge notwithstanding), making it an ideal thing to cook and eat during summer.
They really were very good, with just enough chilli to give them suitable grunt without overpowering the taste of the crab, served with a simple dressed salad of rocket, nashi pear and shards of parmesan.
And given that it was a summery dish, what better thing to drink with it than Pimm’s? Yep, Pimm’s. Now, Pimm’s and I go back a ways. I remember (it was probably the late ’50s or so) an ad on the wireless, along the lines of “Pimm’s No.1 cup, the most heavenly drink on Earth”.It took me a few years to get up close and heavenly with the drink again and it was an unlikely venue. It was the members’ enclosure at the Adelaide Oval (yeah, I’m a cricket tragic who went to the Adelaide Test every year for 12 or so. OK, I had a press pass, which was the only reason they’d ever let someone such as me into the members. I swear that I’m the reason they introduced a dress code. Again, another day.)
Adelaide Oval must be one of the few sporting venues in the world where you can get freshly cooked food (and good wines) — King George whiting, steak sandwiches to die for, decent sandwiches, et al (although I can vouch for the great food at Queen’s Park Oval in Port of Spain, Trinidad, where a thing called bake and shark is a delicious local favourite. There are people cooking a range of foods in what seems every 20 metres or so. Insert Queen’s Park ranges joke here.)
But there is one Adelaide members’ venue that always stood out; a bar that sold nothing but pints of Pimm’s ($6.50) and plates of fresh prawns. The Pimm’s was served with the bar’s version of fruit salad in a glass and given that the weather was always hot, it was a most welcome thing, time and again … and again.
I prefer my Pimm’s a tad simpler, and there are no grounds for argument. (It’s also a reason why, in a certain North Adelaide Indian restaurant, I became known as the Pimm’s man.) A good glug of Pimm’s (remember it is 25% alcohol), a couple of ice cubes, half lemonade and half dry ginger and the mandatory slice of cucumber (skin on, if you please). Too easy, and too good.
It’s great with crab cakes, whatever. OK, it’s just great. Try it. If you haven’t given it a go, you’ll be more than pleasantly surprised.