"A consommé is a beautiful thing, totally clear and full of flavour. You need to be precise to get the best outcome and remember that all seasoning and any additions to the consommé need to be made prior to clarification. If spanner crabs are unavailable, use a blue swimmer crab or even prawns. Chamomile tea adds a wonderful richness to this consommé as well." Peter Kuruvita, Peter Kuruvita's Coastal Kitchen






Skill level

Average: 5 (2 votes)



  • 50 ml olive oil
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 2 kg spanner crabs or shellfish such as prawns or lobster, coarsely chopped (see Note)
  • 200 ml brandy
  • 200 ml Pernod
  • 90 g (⅓ cup) tomato paste
  • 100 ml white wine
  • 4 tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • 2 sprigs of tarragon



  • 1 kg fish scraps
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 12 egg whites
  • 50 g chamomile tea leaves


Spanner crab dumplings

  • 250 g cooked picked spanner crab meat

  • 1 tbsp roughly chopped coriander leaf, plus extra leaves, to serve

  • 1 tbsp finely sliced spring onion (scallions)
  • 1 tsp finely chopped garlic
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 egg white

Cook's notes

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.


Chilling/freezing time 1 hour

To make the stock, heat the oil in a stockpot or large saucepan over high heat. Add the carrot, onion and celery and cook until golden. Add the shellfish and stir until the shells change colour. Add the brandy and Pernod and carefully ignite to burn off the alcohol. Add the tomato and tomato paste and cook for 5 minutes, then add the wine and simmer until nearly evaporated. Add the herbs and 3 litres water, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 2 hours. Strain through a sieve without pushing on the solids, then cool and refrigerate until chilled.

To make the clarification, place all the ingredients in a food processor and process until finely chopped. Transfer to a large saucepan and stir in the cold stock, reserving 250 ml (1 cup) to poach the dumplings. Place over medium heat and gently bring to a simmer, stirring continuously to ensure the clarification doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. When the mixture forms a raft of solids, reduce the heat to as low as possible and simmer very gently for 1 hour. Turn off the heat and allow the raft to sink to the bottom of the pan. Carefully strain the stock through a large piece of muslin.

To make the dumplings, place all the ingredients and half the crab into a blender and process until the mixture comes together into a sticky ball. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the remaining crab meat.

Place the reserved crab stock in a saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer. Using 2 teaspoons, shape the crab mixture into small dumplings and drop into the simmering stock. Simmer for 3-4 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon.  Reheat the consommé, then ladle into bowls, divide the dumplings among them, then scatter with coriander leaves and serve immediately. 



• You can buy frozen spanner crab meat, and if you do ensure you defrost it overnight in a sieve placed over a bowl, then pat dry before using so it is dry. The consommé is the hardest part so take your time and after you have strained the consommé if there is any oil floating on the top simply run a piece of paper towel over the top to absorb the fat.


Photography by Dan Freene. Food preparation by Peter Kuruvita/Cody Fahey.


Peter Kuruvita's Coastal Kitchen airsThursdays at 8.30pm on SBS. Visit the program page for more details, recipes and guides.