Spider-crab croquettes

Serves 6-8

Croquettes are one of those Seventies snacks that if made well can be delightful. Apart from croquetas in tapas bars, however, they are pretty extinct these days. Spider crab is a bit of a rarity on menus, as it is a shellfish that generally gets exported and not eaten here, but it's one of my favourites.

1 spider crab, weighing 500-800g, cooked
About 200g dry mashed potato
3tbsp chopped chives
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
3-4tbsp plain flour
2 medium eggs, separated
50-60g fresh white breadcrumbs
3-4tbsp good-quality mayonnaise
Vegetable or corn oil for deep frying

Remove all of the white and brown meat from the body and legs of the spider crab and keep it separate. Mix enough of the mashed potato with the white crab just to bind it, then season to taste and add the egg yolks and the chives. You can mould the mixture into traditional croquette shapes or mould them with a spoon on to a tray lined with greaseproof paper; then leave to set in the fridge for about an hour.

Meanwhile, simmer the brown meat in a pan until it gets really thick, then leave to cool and mix with the mayonnaise.

Have 3 containers ready, one with the flour, one with the egg whites, beaten a little, and the third with the breadcrumbs. Carefully pass the croquettes through the flour then the egg and finally the crumbs.

Preheat about 8cm of oil to 160-180C in a large thick-bottomed saucepan or electric deep-fat fryer.

Cook the croquettes in manageable batches for 2-3 minutes or until golden, then remove with a slotted spoon and drain on some kitchen paper. Serve with the mayonnaise in a suitable dipping pot.

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