"One of my favourite Scandinavian food traditions is the Norwegian Krabbefest. In the summer, the waters around Bergen teem with hundreds of thousands of delicious brown crabs, and the people of Bergen like nothing better than pulling a few out of the water at their summer houses on the water, cooking them up, and washing them down with plenty of cold beer. It’s paradise." Adam Liaw, Destination Flavour Scandinavia
- 2 tbsp salt
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 330 ml beer (see Note)
- 2 lemons, halved
- 1 bunch dill, roughly torn
- 4 brown crabs or mud crabs (see Note)
- lemon wedges and crusty bread, to serve
Brown butter mayonnaise
- 200 g unsalted butter
- 100 ml grapeseed oil (any neutral oil will do)
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- pinch of salt
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Place 10 litres of water in a very large saucepan or cauldron over high heat. Add the salt, sugar, beer, lemons and dill, cover with a lid and bring to just below a simmer.
Meanwhile, for the brown butter mayonnaise, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat and cook until it browns and has a nutty aroma. As soon as the butter is brown, add the grapeseed oil, remove from heat and set aside for a few minutes to cool slightly.
Place the egg yolks and lemon juice in a medium bowl and use a hand-held whisk to combine well. Whisking continuously, gradually add the brown butter mixture, drop by drop at first and then in a thin steady stream until a thick mayonnaise forms. Season to taste.
To cook the crabs, remove from the ice or freezer, add them to the hot water (the water shouldn’t be boiling) and bring to the boil. Remove the crabs, drain well, then serve immediately with the brown butter mayonnaise, lemon wedges and bread.
For a perfect Norwegian crab sandwich, spread a piece of bread with plenty of the mayonnaise, top with a generous amount of brown meat or tomalley (preferably from a female crab), then add a pile of claw meat (preferably from a male crab) on top.
• I prefer a dark lager, but any beer that is not too bitter will do.
• To dispatch the crabs humanely, it is best to keep them on ice or in the freezer for 15-20 minutes before cooking so they are asleep before cooking.
• The brown butter mayonnaise will firm as it cools, which is fine, but it is best served immediately after making it.
Photography, styling and food preparation by Adam Liaw.
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