Gordon loves cooking and experimenting with food. He loves making new dishes, particularly with unusual or underused ingredients.
Popular in the UK
Potted shrimp is to this day a popular dish in certain parts of the UK. It consists of cooked shrimp set in butter in small pots, often simply spiced with a little nutmeg.
When I saw these crayfish tails on special offer in a local supermarket, I immediately thought of potted shrimp and wondered how I could adapt the idea slightly to suit the crayfish tails. What I decided to do was eliminate the butter and instead use some lobster stock I had in my deep freeze. In order to set the stock, I used leaf gelatine. I also decided to vary the flavours incorporated in the potted and jellied crayfish tails to suit a number of different accompaniments. The seven ramekin presentation set I used for potting the crayfish tails led to me developing seven very different flavour combinations.
Measuring Notes: How Many Crayfish Tails?
It's a good idea of course when preparing any dish that you ensure you have the correct quantities of ingredients available before you start cooking. In this instance, there is no hard and fast definition as to what quantity of crayfish tails you will require as it will depend on the other ingredients you are using as accompaniments.
All I did was take the ramekins I would be using for the jellying and potting and measured out the crayfish tails depending upon how many other ingredients were to be used in each instance. For example, the plain jellied crayfish tails were made to almost fill the ramekin as there were to be no other solid ingredients, where in some other instances, the crayfish tails were made to only half fill the ramekins.
You should then proceed to mix each measured quantity of crayfish tails with the appropriate other solid ingredients and seasonings.
Note: Crayfish tails come in a variety of different sizes due to there being a number of different species. The crayfish tails used in this instance were probably about as large as could be used whole. If necessary, you could cut them in half but don't cut them up too small and ruin the texture of the dish.
1. Chinese 5 Spice and Pineapple Potted Crayfish Tails
- 2/3 filled ramekin of crayfish tails
- 1/2 pineapple ring (canned in own juice)
- Good pinch of Chinese 5 spice
- Tip the measured out quantity of crayfish tails in to a small bowl.
- Moderately finely chop the half pineapple ring and add it to the crayfish tails.
- Season with the 5 spice, stir carefully but well and return the whole combination to the ramekin.
2. Coriander, Cilantro and Lime Potted Crayfish Tails
- 3/4 filled ramekin of crayfish tails
- 1 teaspoon freshly chopped coriander/cilantro
- 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
- Salt and white pepper
- Tip the measured out crayfish tails in to a bowl.
- Add the coriander/cilantro and lime juice. Season with a little bit of salt and white pepper.
- Stir to combine and return to the ramekin.
3. Cucumber and Dill Potted Crayfish Tails
- 1/2 ramekin crayfish tails
- 1 inch piece of cucumber, seeded and moderately finely diced
- Pinch of dried dill
- Add all the ingredients to a small bowl.
- Stir carefully to combine and return to the ramekin.
4. Curry and Green Chilli Potted Crayfish Tails
- 2/3 filled ramekin crayfish tails
- 1 mild to medium strength green chilli
- 1/4 teaspoon medium curry powder
- Cut the chilli in half and de-seed. Leaving the seeds in is not a good idea in this instance as they would totally spoil the texture of the finished dish.
- Finely dice the chilli and mix in a bowl with the crayfish tails and curry powder before adding to the ramekin.
5. Fajita Spice and Bell Pepper Potted Crayfish Tails
- 1/2 filled ramekin crayfish tails
- Heaped teaspoon finely diced mixed red, yellow and green bell pepper slices
- 1/2 teaspoon fajitas spice
- Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl.
- Return to the ramekin. If you find you have room, you can add a little more peppers or crayfish by mixing again in the bowl.
6. Tomato, Basil and Oregano Potted Crayfish Tails
- 1/2 ramekin of crayfish tails
- 1/2 small tomato
- Pinch dried basil
- Pinch dried oregano
- Scoop the seeds and water from the tomato half with a teaspoon and discard.
- Finely dice the tomato half and combine in a bowl with the crayfish tails, basil and oregano before filling the ramekin.
How to Make the Jelly for Potted Crayfish Tails
While I know not many people are lucky enough to have some fresh lobster stock lying around in their freezer ready to be used, it is vitally important that you do use good quality fish or shellfish stock for this dish. The stock is a huge part of the final flavour.
It is equally important that you make enough stock to fill all the ramekins to the brim it's better to over-estimate how much you will need rather than under-estimate. I decided to prepare a pint of stock, which I measured out carefully in a jug. Don't guess-timate the measurement, as this will affect the setting properties of the jelly.
Read the instructions on your leaf gelatine pack to determine how much you will need and how it should be prepared. In this instance, I required four leaves which firstly had to be soaked in cold water for a few minutes.
While the gelatine leaves were soaking, I gently heated the stock in a saucepan until it only just began to simmer. I then turned off the heat and removed the pan to a cool part of my hob, as submitting gelatine to boiling liquid can prevent it setting.
Squeeze the excess water from the gelatine before adding it to the warm/hot stock. Stir with a wooden spoon until it is dissolved and return to the jug for pouring.
Carefully pour enough liquid in to each ramekin to fill to the brim. All solids should be covered. Cover and leave to cool/start to set for an hour or two. At this time, lift to the fridge and leave for a further couple of hours minimum. Overnight is actually better to ensure a full and even set.
Potted and Jellied Crayfish Tails With Hot Buttered Toast
I had prepared the ramekin of plain jellied and potted crayfish tails to taste the concept at its most basic level. This meant that I didn't want to serve it with an accompaniment which would in any way overwhelm or even significantly affect that taste. A simple slice of hot, lightly buttered toast was perfect for my purpose.
Chinese 5 Spice and Pineapple Potted Crayfish Tails With Pak Choi
There are many vegetables which are frequently crunched in stalks as part of a meal, such as celery and carrots. Pak choi (Chinese cabbage) is possibly not a vegetable which would automatically spring to mind in this respect but it is absolutely delicious raw as well as in stir fries. The shape of the leaves also makes the base look like and be able to serve as a simple spoon. Simply break them from the bulb, wash in cold water and dry and serve with the little ramekin of Chinese 5 spiced crayfish tails.
Coriander and Lime Potted Crayfish Tails With Bread and Butter
Coriander and lime makes for a very clean, distinct taste. For this reason, I decided it would go well simply with some bread and butter and a glass of chilled chardonnay.
Cucumber and Dill Potted Crayfish Tails With Water Biscuits
Cucumber and dill is another subtle flavourant combination so I thought these light water biscuit crackers would be a great accompaniment. They proved to work very well but any similarly light, under-whelmingly flavoured cracker should work just as well where you can't buy/find this precise option.
Curry and Green Chilli Potted Crayfish Tails With Mini Poppadoms
The curry and green chilli crayfish tails were crying out for suitable Indian accompaniments. I found these mini poppadoms in my local supermarket in a foil packet, ready to serve. An ice-cold Indian beer finished the combination off to perfection.
Fajita and Bell Pepper Potted Crayfish Tails With Mexicana Cheese
This cheese is a cheese infused with spicy peppers and is quite hot. The crackers are cheese flavoured and the combination of the two worked well with the Mexican fajitas spiced crayfish tails.
Tomato, Basil and Oregano Potted Crayfish Tails on Cheesy Toast
The tomato, basil and oregano tails would work very well with bruschetta. This is slightly different in that it is simply a cheesy bread roll cut in half and lightly toasted.
© 2015 Gordon Hamilton