Greatest recipes ever: The River Café’s crab, fennel, tomato, radicchio

‘I love crabmeat far more than I love lobster. It seems lighter, more subtle and far more flexible to cook with than its brasher, meatier cousin. Over the years, I have eaten it in many different guises in Asian, Mexican and Indian restaurants. Almost all have been delicious, but, somehow, I always come back to simple treatments for this wonderful meat, so as to really appreciate its deliciously sweet sea taste. Being a glutton, I would make a home-made aioli to serve with this salad, with slices of sourdough toast. If I get a glut of courgettes this year, I’ll slow-cook them in gallons of extra- virgin olive oil and garlic, and substitute them for the radicchio and fennel. This salad is gloriously easy, altogether delicious and makes a smart starter or light lunch’

Thomasina Miers

Crab, fennel, tomato, radicchio

Extract from Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers’s River Café Two Easy – Published by Ebury Press in 2005


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2 fennel bulbs
Half a head of radicchio
2 lemons
2 dried chillies
2tbsp flat-leaf parsley leaves
4 plum tomatoes
Extra-virgin olive oil
500g crabmeat


Remove the tough outer leaves and stalks from the fennel. Remove the tough outer leaves from the radicchio. Squeeze the lemons. Crumble the chillies, and chop the parsley.

To make the salad, finely shave the fennel bulbs into a bowl. Finely slice the radicchio into the same bowl. Slice the tomatoes across as thinly as possible. Let any seeds and juice drop out. Add to the bowl. Mix the lemon juice with four times its volume of olive oil, and season. Use half this dressing to dress the salad, and mix the remainder into the crab-meat (see note) with the chilli and parsley.

Serve the salad with the crabmeat alongside. Note: If you buy live crabs, kill them just before cooking. Put them in boiling, salted water for 8-10 minutes according to size, and pick the meat when the crab is still warm-it will be easier to get the meat out of the shell. If you buy crab-meat, get some of the brown meat, too, and serve a spoonful of each per serving.