less than 30 mins
30 mins to 1 hour
2 as a main course
or 4 as a starter
For the shellfish minestrone
- 2 celery sticks, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ fennel bulb, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 handful mussels, scrubbed and debearded
- 1 handful cockles, scrubbed and debearded
- 1 handful clams, scrubbed and debearded
- 200ml/7fl oz vermouth
- 100g/3½oz peeled brown shrimps
- 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh flatleaf parsley
- 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh dill
For the crab and saffron blini
- 500g/1lb 2oz leftover mashed potato
- 150g/5½oz white crab meat
- 1 pinch saffron
- 40g/1½oz crème fraîche
- 2 free-range eggs
- 2 free-range egg yolks
- 65g/2⅓oz plain flour
- splash of milk
For the deep-fried prawns in vermicelli
- 4 large prawns, peeled but heads left on
- 150g/5½oz vermicelli
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the shellfish minestrone, gently fry the vegetables in olive oil for 20 minutes, or until soft but not browned. Set aside.
Discard any shellfish with broken shells and any that refuse to close when tapped. Place a large saucepan over a high heat and add the shellfish and vermouth. Cover and steam for 3–4 minutes. Remove the lid and leave to cool. Discard any shellfish that remain closed. When cool enough to handle, pick out the meat from the shellfish, discard the shells and strain the cooking liquor.
Add the meat and the liquor to the vegetable base, along with the brown shrimps and herbs.
For the crab and saffron blini, mix all the ingredients with enough milk to make a dropping consistency.
Grease a 5cm/2in chefs’ ring and place in a non-stick frying pan. Drop a little of the batter into the ring and cook for 3 minutes on both sides (you don’t need to use a chefs’ ring for this, but it does produce neater results). Repeat to use all the batter. Keep the blinis warm in a low oven until ready to serve.
Preheat a deep-fat fryer to 180C (CAUTION: hot oil can be dangerous. Do not leave unattended).
For the deep-fried prawns, season the prawns with salt and pepper, then wrap in the vermicelli. Deep fry for 2–3 minutes, or until golden-brown.
To serve, gently reheat the shellfish minestrone and divide between serving dishes. Top with a few blinis and the crisp prawns.