Cromer Crab Cakes with Wild Fennel and Samphire Mayonnaise
Updated: Jun 11
Listen, I know that I bought the crabs.. I did however forage the samphire and the wild fennel – the wild fennel came from just outside my hotel on the Cromer coast! But crab, Cromer or not, is a wild food and a very tasty one at that!! One that I will endeavour to catch.. Eventually!
Why are Cromer Crabs so special?
Cromer crabs are held in extremely high regard for a number of reasons. First and foremost, they are renowned for their exceptional taste and delicate texture. When it comes to flavour, Cromer crabs are often described as succulent, sweet, and full of rich seafood goodness.
The meat of these crabs is highly regarded for its distinct and enjoyable and meaty profile.
One of the factors that contribute to the unique qualities of Cromer crabs is their specific location. Cromer, if you have visited it you will know, is a picturesque town situated on the Norfolk coast in England. The waters off the coast of Cromer are known to be rich in nutrients, thanks to the proximity of the North Sea. These nutrient-rich waters provide an ideal environment for crabs to thrive, resulting in the development of high-quality, delicious meat.
The traditional fishing methods employed in catching Cromer crabs also play a role in their special status. Local fishermen often utilise techniques such as crab pots and nets, which have been used for generations. These traditional methods are preferred by many fishermen in the area, as they have proven to be effective in capturing crabs while minimising damage to the delicate meat and for maintaining a long-term and sustainable fishery.
Furthermore, the heritage and history associated with Cromer crabs add to their appeal. The town of Cromer has a longstanding tradition of crab fishing, and its crab industry holds a special place in the local culture. The pride and expertise of the fishermen who dedicate their lives to catching these crabs contribute to the overall quality and reputation of Cromer crabs.
If you haven't already tasted one, trying a Cromer crab is highly recommended for anyone who appreciates delectable seafood. But if you are lucky enough to have some in the fridge, then this recipe is for you.
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When combined with this amazing homemade mayonnaise you will realise why I had to write this up it makes for a fantastic starter when served with a lightly dressed wild rocket salad.
Cromer Crab Cakes with Wild Fennel and Samphire Mayonnaise
2 Medium sized Cromer Crabs
3 or so small to medium Potatoes (nice floury variety)
Tsp of Butter
Tsp Curry powder
Small bunch of Parsley
1 Green Chilli
1 Egg yolk
For the Mayonnaise:
2 Free Range, Organic Egg Yolks
½ Tsp Maldon Salt
Crack of Black Pepper
2 Tbsp Cider Vinegar
200ml Rape Seed Oil
100ml Sunflower Oil
Juice of Lemon
Small bunch of Wild Fennel Fronds
Small bunch of Marsh Samphire
Serves 2 with plenty of leftover Mayonnaise!
Right let's get on with it, first the wild fennel and samphire mayonnaise. If you haven’t ever made mayonnaise before make this one. It will leave you with the all over warm proud feeling of.. I did that! The mayonnaise is yellow because of the rapeseed oil and its flavour is heightened to new levels by the sea vegetables and wild herbs.
Before we start get a small saucepan of boiling water on the stove, season it lightly with salt and blanch the samphire for 2 minutes, place the blanched samphire on a tea towel and allow to cool.
Now you’ll need a blender. Place the egg yolks – I used amazing eggs that had brilliant orange yolks - in the blender. Add the salt, vinegar and 1 tbsp of the rape seed oil and blend until well combined. Now leaving the blender motor running add the remaining oil in a fine trickle (not to much at once or it will split!).
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This will take a little while but the tip is the slower the better!! When close to completion (running out of oil) squeeze in your lemon juice, blend for a little longer and then check the seasoning (add your black pepper now). The sauce should be thick and sumptuous and totally calorific and delicious. When the mayonnaise is ready, chop the samphire into 2cm strands and finely chop the wild fennel fronds stir these through the mayonnaise and then decant into a serving bowl – this will sit in the fridge for ages.. Well as long as you can keep your hands off of it!
The crab cakes now have to be prepared, these can be made in advance and sat in the fridge so make a perfect dinner party treat.
Peel and boil the potatoes in salted water, cook until tender and then mash with a fork into a puree. Whilst the potatoes are still warm add the butter, cream, finely chopped green chilli, chopped parsley, finely diced shallots and plenty of seasoning. Leave to cool entirely.
Now, depending on whether you have bought your crabs dressed or not you have to prepare them ready for the cakes. If they are not dressed crack the claws and shell and remove all of the brown and white meat making sure that there is no shell hiding within the separated meat.
Now a quick assesment - yuo want more crab meat than potato probably 70% crab meat, 30% potato. Before you add your brown meat to the potato mix make sure there is enough potato to hold the cakes together and not mask all of that beautiful crab meat.
Take the brown meat and stir into the now cool mash potato along with egg yolk. Now with the white meat gently stir it into the cakes trying not to break it up to much. When nicely combined, using your hands mould the cakes into rounds and then gently flatten. Depending on the amount of mix you have you can make 4 to 6. Plate the crab cakes up, cover them and place in the fridge (min 30 minutes or until ready).
To cook couldn’t be simpler, dust the crab cakes a little seasoned flour and then in a little olive oil and over a medium / high heat cook the crab cakes for 5 minutes on each side until lightly crispy. Serve immediately with a wild rocket salad and lashings of the home made mayonnaise.
The cakes are plump and crabby, with a crispy flavoursome edge. The seafood flavour resonates through the cakes and needs a rich but sharp flavour to accompany them, the wild fennel and samphire mayonnaise is perfect for this!! In fact the mayonnaise is a perfect sauce for any seafood as the lemon juice and green sea vegetables combine with the rich creaminess to make a simply divine sauce. Perfect for these light and delicious cakes!
I was lucky enough to visit Cromer and take a few of these wild tasty treats with me. I was even more lucky to have wild fennel growing outside my hotel and samphire in the fridge which combined beautifully to make this amazing starter! You can use any type of crab for this recipe so you have no excuse! You will thank me!
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