A delicate, light and stunning crab soufflé recipe, with some added spice

A soufflé recipe might sound daunting but is actually simple to prepare and the result is a stunner. Soufflé is best made with strong flavours and using this recipe with harissa rather than the traditional tabasco or cayenne gives the crab a new edge.



Frozen or pre-packed crab meat works perfectly but if you like to cook your own, just boil in court bouillon for 15 minutes or so, cool, then pick it as you would normally. The claws make an impressive garnish.




  • 1⁄2 tsp each cumin, fennel and coriander seeds
  • 110g (4oz) picked crab meat
  • 1 tbsp harissa
  • 150ml (5fl oz) milk
  • 20g (3⁄4oz) butter
  • 20g (3⁄4oz) flour
  • Small handful chopped coriander
  • 1 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1 egg white
  • Butter and flour or breadcrumbs to line ramekins


Dry-roast the cumin, fennel and coriander seeds for a couple of minutes, then grind them up with a spice grinder or pestle and mortar.


Purée the crab meat and harissa in the blender, adding a little of the milk if necessary to get a smooth paste.
Make a white roux from the butter and flour, then gradually whisk in the milk, followed by the crab paste, until smooth and thick.


Add the ground spices and coriander and season with salt.


The mixture should taste over-seasoned; when you add the egg whites they will dull the flavour.


Add the yolks from the whole eggs, keeping the whites.


This mixture can be kept in the fridge for a day or so.
Pre-heat the oven to 220°C/425°F/Gas Mark 7 for at least 15 minutes with a baking sheet inside.


Meanwhile, line four small ramekins with a thin layer of butter and flour (or breadcrumbs) and refrigerate.


In a clean bowl, beat the three egg whites to a medium peak.


Beat a spoonful into the crab béchamel, then quickly but gently fold in the rest.


Fill each ramekin to a finger’s width from the top and run the blade of a sharp knife around the edge of the mixture to stop it catching as it rises.
When your guests are seated, put the soufflés on the hot baking tray in the oven.


Immediately turn the oven down to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6 and cook for 10-12 minutes.


Resist opening the oven for the first 10 minutes.


The soufflé should just wobble in the middle when jiggled.


Serve immediately.