Dressed crab with white sauce

Rachel Allen offers an alternative to traditional dressed crab topped buttered crumbs
By Rachel Allen
Dressed crab with white sauce
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 6
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes plus 30 mins to infuse
  • Effort: easy


For the cucumber pickle

  • 900 g cucumber, thinly sliced (preferably with a mandoline)
  • 3 small onions, thinly sliced
  • 350 g caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 225 ml cider vinegar

For the white sauce

  • 1.5 litres milk
  • 1 carrot, halved
  • 1 sprigs parsley
  • 1 sprigs thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 150 g butter
  • 150 g plain flour
  • 1/4 - 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg, to taste

For the dressed crab

  • 425 g white and brown crab meat, (the meat from approximately 3 crabs)
  • 70 g white breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp tomato country relishes
  • 30 g softened butter
  • 1 tsp French mustard

For the buttered crumbs

  • knob of butter
  • 110 g breadcrumbs

To serve

  • 3 clean crab shells


1. For the cucumber pickle: combine the cucumbers, onions, sugar, salt and vinegar in a non-reactive bowl until ready to serve.

2. For the white sauce: put the milk, carrot, parsley, thyme and bay leaf in a pan and bring to the boil. Immediately reduce the heat and then simmer for 2 minutes. Take off the heat and set aside for half an hour to infuse. Strain the milk into a clean pan and keep hot.

3. Melt the butter in a separate pan, whisk in the flour and stir over a medium heat for two minutes or until the mixture begins to give off a nutty aroma. Remove from the heat and gradually add the hot milk, whisking all the time. Place back on the heat and bring to the boil to thicken. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg, to taste.

4. For the dressed crab: preheat the oven to 200C/Gas 6.

5. Mix the crabmeat, breadcrumbs, vinegar, relish, butter and French mustard together in a bowl. Stir in 120ml of the white sauce and then pile the mixture into the crab shells. The remaining white sauce can be set aside for use in another recipe.

6. For the buttered crumbs: melt the butter in a pan or bowl in the microwave, but do not allow it to brown. Add the breadcrumbs to the melted butter and stir to combine.

7. Top the crabmeat with the buttered crumbs and bake for 20 minutes, or until golden-brown on top. Serve at once with the cucumber pickle.

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