Yep, I’ve done it again – I’ve broken my vow of vegetarianism. This time by having a fling with a Cromer Crab. I class it as an affair because the act took place when I was home alone. And I told no one about it.
In the past I’ve found it relatively easy to reduce my fish intake, but shellfish has been a different story. There’s nothing I don’t love: potted brown shrimps served with triangles of toast; steamed lobster with garlic butter and skinny fries; king prawns barbequed in their shells; mussels with Roquefort and cream; cockles swimming in vinegar; and then of course there’s the sweet and tender meat found in a crab.
I used to feel guilty about breaking my vegetarianism and if I’m honest I still do a bit, but my philosophy now is try to do what you can, where you can, and don’t feel guilty. Guilt doesn’t benefit anyone. Just start again tomorrow. That’s got to be better than throwing in the towel completely. I mean, I’ve been a foodie for over 30 years – so to suddenly change your eating habits is by no means easy. (Especially when your mother still gives you ‘take home treats’ of smoked salmon and rib eye steaks, knowing you’re veggie. It’s a Maltese thing.)
So, if you are going to break your vegetarianism, then make it count. Savour every moment, buy the best, locally sourced ingredients, make a special effort with preparing your dish, create some theatre, pour yourself a glass of wine and when you eat it, appreciate every mouthful as though it were your last. Meditate on every flavour you detect.
With July being the height of crab season, I found it too tempting to resist. To really savour and appreciate this delicious local delicacy and to marry my love of Asian food with this Cromer Crab – symbolic of my Norfolk roots – I had a special sandwich in mind.
The Struggling Vegetarian’s Baguette
1 dressed Cromer crab
A third of a flute of sourdough bread
1 tablespoon of homemade or good-quality mayonnaise
1 tablespoon of finely chopped coriander
½ teaspoon of finely chopped red chilli
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
Sea salt and black pepper
Mix all of the above together and spoon into a sour dough baguette or good-quality sliced bread. Serve with a glass of Chardonnay – its acidity will complement the sweetness of crab meat
Crab Sustainability & Nutrition: We’re very lucky here in Norfolk to have a healthy supply of fresh Cromer crabs. A sustainable fishing method is used to catch these local crabs on the chalky reef just offshore. They’re a good source of protein, low in unsaturated fat and contains vitamin A, C, B and minerals such as zinc, copper. Something I only discovered today, female crabs have sweeter flesh than males.