Thanks to Heston’s free recipe book on iTunes you can recreate this classic Hinds Head snack at home.
We properly buggered up our first and only visit to the Hinds Head. You can read about our poor menu choices here.
One day we’ll go back and check out the more exciting dishes that make up the modern Hinds Head menu. Until then we’re lucky that Heston Blumenthal and his team have published a few of those fantastic recipes for us to try out at home. You can find a few of those online from links in our recipes section. But, more recently, and tied in with the Telegraph newspaper, was the release of a completely free Heston Blumenthal recipe book on iTunes: Dine at Home With Heston.
Most of the book might be lesser Heston at Home recipes from 4 years ago, or stuff from a couple of Christmases past on the Waitrose website, but there’s a few brand new recipes that even we’ve never seen before. And we’ve seen more Heston Blumenthal recipes than is healthy for anyone.
A few of these we recognise as Hinds Head classics (ones we seethingly remember not being on the menu during our visit). Stand-out recipes include the Blackberry Eton Mess, Wild Mushroom Macaroni and this relatively easy recipe for a bar snack / starter / light lunch, Heston’s Crab on Toast recipe.
Recipes: Heston’s Crab on Toast recipe
Special Equipment: None
Special Ingredients: A crab
Time: About ten minutes, then a full day, then another 30 minutes
Step 1: Pickled Cucumber
If it wasn’t for this step this recipe would take less than half an hour. But this cucumber is part of what takes this dish to the next-level. Feel free to skip it if you want, but you’re probably not looking at Heston Blumenthal recipes because you like cutting corners.
It’s hardly the hardest kitchen job you’ve ever done though. Weight some salt,sugar and vinegar into a pan…
… then heat until combined. Set aside to cool.
Meanwhile slice a cucumber in half, scrape out the wet middle bit with a teaspoon, then cut into batons and cut those batons into cubes.
Pour the now-cooled vinegar solution over your cube-cumbers then cover and leave in the fridge overnight.
Step 2: Powdered Kombu
Welcome back. Along with the pickled cucumbers this is the other “Heston touch” that makes this recipe something special.
You might remember our old friend kombu from Heston’s In Search of Perfection Fish Pie recipe. It’s a pretty obscure ingredient, we get ours from the Wing Yip Chinese superstore in Manchester, from the same aisle where they sell all kinds of terrifying-looking dried roots.
Each pack contains about a metre of the stuff, and Heston’s recipes usually call for a couple of square inches at most. I’m too stingy to throw the leftover sheets away, so for us this is a store-cupboard staple. You guys could easily substitute sushi nori, which is basically the same thing.
If you’re using the hardcore stuff it’ll need to be processed, i.e. blitzed to a powder in a spice grinder.
Don’t forget to sieve the remaining chunks out. We all suffer our way through the perfection recipes for nothing.
Step 3: Sieved Crab
Some of you might recall that we once had to kill a live crab to make Heston’s Crab Risotto. We all know how badly that went, so this time we’re totally cheating and just using a frozen crab from Asda (the posh one, but only because it was on offer).
As with any processed crab there’s a risk of tiny shell fragments still being in the meat. You can reduce some of this risk by pushing the brown crab meat through a sieve. Pushing things through sieves is always a lot of work though, so we totally wouldn’t blame you if you decided to be lazy / live dangerously.
Step 4: Mix, Mix, Mix
The remainder of this recipe requires nothing more than your ability to measure with care whilst hitting the zero button on the scales.
Add lemon juice, mayonnaise, ketchup, paprika, coriander (we cheated with the frozen stuff) along with all your crab meats, the pickled cucumbers and the kombu dust.
Stir this lot together and you’re basically ready, save for some bread toasting. And we’re sure you know how to do that step already. Congratulations, you’ve just made Heston’s Hinds Head Crab on Toast recipe.
I sort of hate it when a Heston recipe turns out flawlessly. It means we have to heap praise on it and we’ll just end up looking like shills or sycophants. And, unfortunately, this recipe is absolutely flawless.
It’s not too sloppy, which is a worry so obvious you probably didn’t even consciously think about it. The texture is exactly what you want, especially with properly crisp, toasted bread. The addition of kombu is a stroke of genius, giving the dish a savoury, seaside quality that enhances the flavour of the crab.
Of course, ketchup and may will always make things taste great. As will, in many cases, lemon juice. So it should be no surprise that these all work well. I’m not really a fan of paprika either, and even that works here. Even the cucumber is worth the effort, adding a mouth-watering sharpness and crunch the complements the tender crab meat perfectly.
Practical matters: this is quite a satisfying dish. We got a filling meal for two out of this recipe, but you could happily make 4 starters and nobody would feel short-changed.
After all the hard work of the Perfection recipes we often feel like making stuff like Heston’s Crab on Toast recipe looks lazy, but when the results are this good it’s hard to care! A fantastic dish.
This recipe is pretty much perfect. Although if we made it again we’d:
- Probably only pickle the cucumbers for an hour or so. David Chang does his in, like, 20 minutes. And with such small cubes can’t take too long for the vinegar to seep through them.
- Add lemon zest to the crab mixture. It’s going spare, and we like the extra sharp lemon zing that zest always brings.