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Friday, 6 March 2009

Partan Bree East Neuk of Fife Scotland

Partan Bree, East Neuk of Fife, Scotland.

This is more of a national than a regional dish, but it is made in the East Neuk of Fife whenever crabs are plentiful. Crabs are known throughout Scotland by their Gaelic name (partan) and bree simply means 'liquid' or gravy. The season lasts from January to October and the crabs are usually boiled by the fishmonger. To cook them if they are live, plunge them into a large pan of boiling water and simmer for 20 minutes. They can weigh anything from 1 and a half to 8 Ib, but for quality the best weight is about 3 lb (1.4kg). It is illegal to offer for sale crabs less than 4 and a half (10 cm) in breadth across the broad part of the back, or any crab carrying spawn (known as 'berried' crabs).

1 large cooked crab (about 2-3 Ib, 1 to 1and a half kg)
Quarter pt single cream (125 ml)
2 oz rice (50 g)
Anchovy essence to taste
1 pt milk (600 ml)
Salt and pepper
1 pt water (600 ml)
Garnish - Chopped parsley

Remove all the meat from the crab, keeping the claw meat separate. Put the rice in a pan with the milk and water. Cook till the rice is tender. Put the rice and some of the cooking liquid into a liquidiser with all the crab meat except the meat from the claws. Make into a fine puree or put all this through a sieve. Return puree to the soup and add anchovy essence and cream. Season and adjust the consistency with more milk if necessary. Add claw meat and some finely chopped parsley. Heat through but do not boil. Serve in heated soup bowls.

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