Whitby Crab, Alphonso Mango, Wet Garlic & Summer.

As much as I love a good stew, soup, pie etc, there is something about summer food – vibrant colours, fresh flavours, prettiness on a plate. Food is relaxed in an elegant way, something that cannot be easily achieved with stew and dumplings (although, YUM). As soon as the days start getting warmer, my appetite for carbs starts diminishing and I crave something a bit lighter for my belly. These crab rolls are perfect, like sushi rolls but without the rice. The two knobbly cukes turned up in the box – I pared thin strips with a vegetable peeler and used them as the wrappings for some crunchy ‘sushi’ rolls.

I got to thinking about seafood with fruit after Chris’ brother told me of a lobster and mango salad he ate recently in Dubai. In the UK, Alphonso mangoes are available right now. You buy them by the box and can find them in Indian grocers, which means just about anywhere in London (I can’t be sure of their availability elsewhere, although I used to find them with no problems in Oxford).

The flesh of the Alphonso is considered unsurpassed in terms of sweetness, juiciness and flavour and they are smaller than your average specimen. The fact that you buy them by the box coupled with an incredibly short shelf life is no issue as you will gobble them up quickly. The flavour is like a super enhanced mango.

The crabs landed at Whitby Bay which you can see on this webcam . You could even watch the catch come in, if you like that kind of thing… I bet they eat the freshest crab in Whitby Bay. I remember very clearly some crab eaten while holidaying in Cornwall with my family – spanking fresh, caught that morning and landed literally feet away from the shop/front of someone’s house. We ate it with brown toast, a squeeze of lemon and a green salad – I remember thinking I’d died and gone to heaven.

So for the rolls, we have a strip of mango, a pocket of succulent crab meat, a thin strip each of red chilli and spring onion and finally a leaf of young coriander. All of these I picked up from my favourite local shop which I am lucky to have, as the shopkeeper really cares about great produce and his finger is completely on the pulse without being pretentious. I am hoping my preference for shopping locally might offset my carbon footprint a little considering that the Alphonsos came from Mumbai… Look, I don’t even drive ok?

In the same shop I also discovered some wet garlic – fresh, paperless and an absolute dream to use. The shopkeeper was happy we bought it, peeling back the skin slightly and inviting us to smell it’s pungency. It’s beautiful. You know how that paper can sometimes drive you crazy? No problem with wet garlic, the skin in still fresh and the cloves pop right out. They are crisp, crush like a dream and the whole bulb is a bloomin’ revelation. I want all my garlic like this. The cucumber acted as a perfect container for the fillings – you get crunchy cuke, soft crab, fruity mango, a hint of chilli and fragrant herbage.

This you dunk into the dipping sauce of finely chopped kaffir lime leaves, wet garlic, galangal, rice wine vingear, fish sauce and a touch of honey and oil. Great finger food and perfect for sharing. We ate them on our balcony which is fast becoming a mini jungle, listening to sounds of people in the park and the London traffic which I now find strangely comforting. I love sitting in our little oasis with the chaos of the city below.

Cucumber Rolls with Crab, Alphonso Mango and Chilli

- I don’t think this really needs a recipe does it? Pare thin strips (lengthways) from a cucumber with a vegetable peeler, fill with white crab meat, mango strips, chilli strips and a coriander leaf. Roll them up. Voila! Dip in your sauce of choice.

Category: Fish, Fruit, Gluten-free, Healthy, Snacks, Starters, Vegetables 29 comments »

29 Responses to “Whitby Crab, Alphonso Mango, Wet Garlic & Summer.”

  1. Peter

    Wonderfully creative and striking to look at. You’ve given me food for thought with those cucumber ribbons.

  2. Peter G

    I’m fascinated by this wet garlic Helen. I don’t believe I’ve seen it before! Now, I’m curious. Great sauce for the crab and mango rolls. All your dishes are just so superb and creative! How did our exams go?

  3. Kitt

    That’s spectacular! Using cucumber for wrappers is a great idea.

  4. Johanna

    it is nice that the seasons offer such different experiences – I am enjoying stews and roasted vegies at the moment! I was interested in your garlic – I had a purple one recently that was the worst garlic I have ever had – it wouldn’t peel or crush and had a disappointingly mild flavour. Yours sound much nicer

  5. Trig

    Creative, yet simple, harmonious and elegant. Everything great food should be. A good place to eat this would be my mum’s living room, where the Frank Meadow Sutcliffe pictures on the walls remind you of the breaking waves and bracing winds of Whitby.

  6. Helen

    Peter – Food for thought is as good as food in the mouth!
    Peter G – If you find any wet garlic, you must buy it, I loved it. The exams are unfortunately still not over! I have finished one and the other is tomorrow…eek!
    Kitt -Thanks.
    Johanna – You sound like you got a bad bulb there, mine was totally the opposite.
    Trig – High praise indeed from a professional chef! It’s also lovely to hear that your mum is a Whitby fan too. bracing winds indeed!

  7. Fearless Kitchen

    This is such a creative idea! It’s very visually appealing, and I’d bet it tastes perfect. I love mangoes, and this is a great new (to me) way of including them!

  8. Mango Power Girl

    Those mangoes look amazing … send me a box ;) Thanks for posting the shot!

  9. Jeanne

    Oh, gorgeous! I love crab under pretty much any circumstances so these sound like my idea of heaven, beautifully presented :) ANd I’ve never seen wet garlic before – intriguing.

  10. evil chef mom

    that dish is so beautiful. the mangoes i get in california probably will taste nothing like those beauties.

  11. farida

    What a creative dish! Yum!

  12. JennDZ_The LeftoverQueen

    These look amazing, Helen! Super summery!

  13. Ellie @ Kitchen Wench

    What gorgeous little bites – so light and summery! Nice work on the photos and presentation :)

  14. Y

    What summery looking crab rolls,.. and not only that, that garlic sounds fascinating and looks amazing. I love it when you find ingredients you can get excited about.

  15. Nicisme

    I did something similar with cukes recently but they didn’t turn out as beautiful as yours. I could pick one of those off the screen!!

  16. nina

    OMG these photos are just out of this world. You are SO talented.

  17. Jessica

    Those look delicious! Such pretty presentation!

  18. Kevin

    Those rolls look so good!!

  19. Helen

    Thank you everyone for your lovely comments. Apologies for my lack of response over the past couple of weeks, I have had exams but they are now over and I am free to get back to my number one passion – food!

  20. Rosemary

    Those cucumber rolls look beautiful, summer on a plate.

  21. aforkfulofspaghetti

    Gorgeous stuff, all!

  22. NickyB

    Fabulous looking – my mouth is watering. They are on my list of “must-makes” for next week, thanks!

  23. cookinpanda

    Gorgeous helen! I love the idea of sushi without rice. And these just look incredibly good. Your photos really capture the essence of the photo per usual, as well.

  24. Lizzie

    These look great, at first I thought the wrappers were marinated slices of courgette. I love summer too, I have turned into a salad queen.

  25. NickyB

    I made these over the weekend as promised and they were utterly delicious. I mixed king crab and northsea crab to get a mixture of sweet and savoury crab flavours. It worked so well. Followed it up with duck sang choi bau, so plenty of messy finger food fun!

  26. Helen

    Nicky – I am so glad you enjoyed them! I love it when people make my recipes and even more when they give me nice feedback. Finger food is the best!

  27. Madeline

    I love cucumber rolls. I also have a version on my blog. The mango sounds like a fabulous addition.

  28. Becky

    omg, this is such a good idea. i’m with you on the lighter, more vibrant summer foods. thanks for the recipe!

  29. Elegant Picnic Recipes

    Where have you been all my life? Fantastic site and all my queries resolved. Duncan Hopeman


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