A spring recipe from Gather Cook Feast, the new cookbook from Toast co-founder Jessica Seaton.
Crayfish with Wild Garlic Butter & Lovage Vodka
Following the Scandinavian proactice of eating quantities of crayfish washed down with aquavit, here is a herby alternative. Make the lovage vodka ahead.
Lovage is a delicious, under-used herb with earthy, aromatic (and even curry-ish) celery flavours. It’s not often found in supermarkets but it is easy to grow, shooting up every spring and threatening to take over the garden. If you have difficulty finding lovage, use a small bunch of dill.
Wild garlic butter is also delicious stirred into a risotto, mixed into pasta, or on grilled meat or fish. Substitute an aïoli, in need.
The crayfish in broth
3 kilos live freshwater crayfish
5 litres water
½ a bottle of white wine
3 leeks of onions, sliced
3 sticks of celery, sliced
3 bay leaves
Small bunches of fresh mint, parsley and dill
1 teaspoon each fennel seeds and black peppercorns
5 tablespoons sea salt
1 tablespoon sugar
Lemon wedges, dill fronds and crusty bread
Wild garlic butter (method below)
Lovage shots (method below)
In a large pot, make a stock by combining all the ingredients except the crayfish (reserving some dill fronds) and simmer for around half an hour. Strain the broth and return the liquid to the pot. Bring to a vigorous boil, then add half the crayfish and simmer for 7 minutes. Lift them out with a strainer into a bowl of icy water to stop them cooking. Repeat with the remaining crayfish. Let the stock cool completely, then pour over the strained crayfish and leave them in the fridge for several hours or overnight to soak up the flavoursome broth.
Strain the crayfish and serve at room temperature with the reserved fronds of dill and lemon wedges. Gently heat the wild garlic butter until melted and warm. Pour the butter into little bowls for dipping and the lovage vodka or gin into chilled shot glasses. Crusty bread is essential to mop up the juices.
Pour 500ml of vodka into a jar, add a handful of lovage, making sure it’s submerged, then close the jar and leave at room temperature for 2 days. Remove the lovage, decant into a bottle and chill in the fridge or freezer.
Wild Garlic Butter
Mash 100g of very, very finely chopped wild garlic with 250g of butter until well combined. Add salt to taste. Press the butter into a dish, cover well with clingfilm and leave to chill in the fridge or freezer.