Large velvet or swimmer crabs – 6 – self caught
Sea Bass – 1 – self caught
Pollack – 1 – self caught
Mackerel – 2 – Curgurrell Farm
John Dory – 1 – Truro Fishmonger
Gurnard – 2 – Truro Fishmonger
Potatoes – 2 large – self grown
Carrots – 3 large – Curgurrell Farm
Tomatoes – 6 large – Curgurrell Farm
Onion – 1 medium – Curgurrell Farm
Garlic – 6 cloves – Curgurrell Farm
Yellow Courgettes – Honesty box
Celery – 4 sticks – Ralphs
Red pepper – 1- Ralphs
Water – 2 litres should do it
Crushed Alexander seeds – foraged – optional
Splash of vegetable or olive oil
- Gut, skin and fillet all the fish saving the heads and bones for stock except for those of the Mackerel.
- Peel the carrots, potatoes, onion and dice all the vegetables. Roughly chop the garlic.
- Put oil in a large pan, cover and sweat the garlic and onion for a few minutes before adding the rest of the vegetables. Allow these to sweat over a low heat for a few more minutes before adding the water, don’t worry about the exact amount – you can always add more later if it is too dry or cook for longer to evaporate more if too wet – but 1.5 litres should be about right.
- Add all the fish heads and bones (other than those of the Mackerel) to the stock along with a few sprigs of the thyme – if you want to be really chefy and use a bouquet garni of thyme, bay, and rosemary then chuck it in now.
- Bring up to the boil then turn down and leave on a barely murmuring simmer for an hour or so when the remaining fish meat will have come off the bones and the potatoes broken down. Turn up the heat until boiling again and add the crab. Cover and leave on a rolling boil for five minutes depending on the size of the crabs.
- Take off the heat and sift out the large needle like bones from the John Dory and Gurnard. Take out the crabs and break off the shell and remove the inedible ‘Dead Man’s Fingers’ – the frilly bit inside the shell. Break off the large front claws and put to one side. Break the rest of the crabs into pieces and return to the pan.
- Remove the bouquet garni if you put it in and then whizz everything up with a hand blender or liquidiser until really smooth. If you feel like it pass everything through a sieve to get out any large bits of shell but it shouldn’t need it if it’s been blended well enough.
- Put the whole lot back on the cooker and bring up to heat before adding the fish fillets cut into chunks and the crab claws. Poach for a few minutes in the bisque adding any extra water if needed. Season to taste with the salt, pepper and crushed Alexanders seeds (make sure you can correctly identify these as they can be confused with Hemlock and we don’t want any Socratesian mishaps!)
- Spoon into bowls and serve with big old chunks of bread and a large glass of Sancerre.