Philippa Davis' spiced crab thermidor makes an excellent starter, bringing the spice of the West Indies to your supper party

For something a little bit different, try Philippa Davis’ spiced crab thermidor for your next supper party. Perfect for a starter that packs a punch, allspice is central to the cookery of the West Indies. It gets its name for being similar to a mix of pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.

Game works fantastically with spice. Try our Jamaican inspired slow-cooked shoulder of venison with jerk seasoning. Or learn how to grow your own chillies for your next spicy supper, how to grow chillies: turning up the heat.


Serves 4 as a starter

  • 3 small shallots
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp dark rum
  • 40ml double cream
  • 50ml mayonnaise
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1½ tsp wholegrain mustard
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp allspice
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • 75g hard cheese (strong cheddar, gruyère)
  • 250g white crab meat
  • 100g brown crab meat
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped chives
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped parsley

To serve

  • Add a few leaves of parsley and some warm, crusty bread

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 and turn on the grill.

If buying and picking your own crab you will need approximately one kilo brown crab for this recipe. Don’t forget to discard the lungs ‘dead man’s fingers’ as they are indigestible and have an unpleasant taste. You can make a crab stock out of the shell, great for a simple fish soup, pasta or risotto.

In a small saucepan, sauté the shallots in the butter and oil until soft – about 5 minutes.

Add the rum and cook for a few seconds before adding the double cream.

Bring to a simmer then take off the heat.

In a bowl, whisk the mayo, egg yolk, mustard, spices and cheese together. Then add in the white and brown crab meat, lemon juice and fresh herbs.

Stir in the shallots and cream and season with salt and pepper.

Spoon into a shallow/wide ovenproof dish (you want to get a large surface area of grilled topping) and bake in the oven until it begins to bubble, about
8 to 10 minutes.

Then place under a hot grill to brown the top.

Serve straight away.