Mud crab and smoked kumara gnocchi

Serves: 4

Difficulty: 1hat

Ingredients

200g mud crab meat
220ml coconut cream
1 teaspoon Alpine pepper
tatsoi leaves

For the gnocchi:
1kg smoked kumara
1 egg
200-300g plain flour
1 teaspoon Red Desert Dust
½ teaspoon Fruit Spice

Method:

If the crab is live, place it into the freezer for 20 minutes to kill it. Scrub it clean in running water. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil (enough to cover the crab and some) and put the crab in to cook timing 10 minutes from when the water comes back to a boil. Remove the crab and cool it down in cold water.

Break the shell and remove the meat. You could put all the trimmings and shell (crack open the body) back into the boiling water and reduce it down, maybe adding some carrot and celery, onion with skins and pot herbs such as bay leaf, sage and thyme and keep cooking it down to concentrate to a really good crab soup after straining it. But we are just after the crab meat here.

For the gnocchi:
1. in a large cast iron or pottery pot with a well-fitting lid, place some damp paperbark (you can use off-cuts for this); place in your kumara which you could cut into large sections if you have plenty of time or smaller pieces if you have less
2. fit the lid and put the pot over medium heat for 25-45 minutes or until the kumara is soft; try not to open the pot for at least 20 minutes as it will fill with smoke and this is when the kumara is cooking most and picking up its flavour; remove the kumara once it’s done and a knife passes easily into the largest piece
3. ¾ fill a large saucepan with water (make sure your pot is big enough for all of your gnocchi to fit into), salt the water and bring to the boil
4. mash the smoked kumara, skin and all, either by hand or in a food processor
5. use a mixer with a paddle fitted and add the kumara, egg, the spices and 200g of the flour
6. turn the mixer to a low setting operate until the mixture starts to form a ball, stop the mixer and check the wetness, if it sticks to your fingers add more flour until it just doesn’t
7. tip the mix out onto a floured bench top
8. divide the mixture into 4 equal sausage like shapes, roll it out until you get the required thickness you like, (usually about as thick as a breakfast sausage is good); cut the gnocchi into 2.5cm pieces, use a fork to add a texture to the tops and place on a floured plate until you’re ready to cook them
9. warm the coconut cream in a small saucepan and add the Alpine pepper once it is hot but not boiling (just heat to a very gentle simmer and remove from heat); leave the spice to infuse
10. transfer the gnocchi to the boiling water and stir once; when the gnocchi floats to the surface remove them to a large bowl; drizzle some oil over them and toss lightly to stop them sticking together – you could use an infused olive oil here too say, Smokey fried garlic, Wild Thai twist or Garlic and Gumleaf in the Yarras Olive oil range but consider leaving out the Red Desert Dust so the flavours don’t battle

Styling
1. Try and get hold of plates that look funky, unusual shapes look good
2. a good trick is to use hot plates, as it not only keeps the food warm but as soon as the coconut sauce hits the plate the aroma will fill the room
3. place the gnocchi in the centre of the plate
4. lay the crab meat on top
5. drizzle plenty of the Alpine pepper coconut cream around the plate and serve extra in side dishes
6. to finish, scatter a few tatsoi leaves over the dish for more colour and freshness and maybe include some toasted macadamia nut pieces or pine nuts which can add what Vic calls
“textural crunch” to complete the dish

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Dining Downunder Cookbook

This Australian recipe of Mud crab and smoked kumara gnocchi is included in the Dining Downunder Cookbook which can be purchased online at the Dining Downunder Online Shop. Also available online is a wide range of native Australian herbs and spices, sauces, syrups, infused oils and bush tucker ingredients such as wattleseed and paperbark rolls.

Vic Cherikoff