Sunny Saturday seafood platter

We wish we could eat out every meal of the day. Fortunately, while funds don't allow it we are forced to be creative in the kitchen. This is one of our favourite sharing starters for when we've got friends over for dinner, or a main between the two of us if we've had a big lunch. It takes a bit of preparation but it's so worth it. Click read more for the recipes...

Crab and prawn gyoza 
We make these Japanese dumplings at least once a week, sometimes with crab and other times with chicken or pork. They're great as a snack, in your lunchbox or as a quick starter. Once you've made them a couple of times you'll get the hang of it and you throw them together in no time at all. To make about 20, you'll need: 
  • For the skins:
    - 150g plain flour
    - Splash sesame oil
    - 100ml boiling water
  • For the crab and prawn filling:
    - A tin of crab meat
    - Handful of shrimp (defrosted if frozen)
    - Zest and juice of half a lemon
    - A spring onion
    - Big tbsp of oyster sauce
    - Finely chopped clove of garlic
    - Minced cm cube of ginger
    - Optional: finely chopped chilli
1) Start by making the skins -- the pastry that will encase your mini dumplings. Pop the flour in a bowl and make a well in the middle. 
2) Add the boiling water and sesame oil, and mix together with a wooden spoon until it forms a ball. 
3) Then get your hands in and knead it for a few minutes until it's smooth and elastic, then pop it to one side while you make the filling. 
4) For the filling, throw all the ingredients in a bowl and combine thoroughly. 
5) Grab your dough and roll it out as thin as possible on a floured surface. 
6) Use a 8-10cm circular cutter (or a cup, like us). Cut out as many circles as you can, then re-roll and cut some more. You should end up with about 20. 
7) Use a teaspoon to pop a small amount of the filling into the middle of the circles. 
8) Fold the pastry over and pinch it together. I always think they look a bit like mini cornish pasties. 
9) To cook your gyoza, use a big shallow flat-bottom pan with a lid. Heat some oil on a high heat and add the gyoza in a single layer (you may have to do two batches!) Cook for a minute, then grab a shot glass full of cold water and throw it in the pan, slamming the lid on quickly as you do. This will steam the gyoza through. Depending on whether you like the skin soft or crunchy, you can eat them steamed or take the lid of and continue to fry them until they become crisp. 

Crispy chilli calamari
It's one of those things that you always order in a restaurant and never attempt to make at home, but calamari is the easiest starter. We get frozen squid from Tesco - they don't do it online but they do it in most big stores and it's amazing. It comes in a big bag and costs about a fiver, but there are loads of whole baby squids - perfect for chopping into rings for calamari! You can throw a few prawns into this batter too. This recipe makes enough for two, and you'll need:
  • About 5 baby squid, chopped into rings
  • 50g plain flour
  • 50g cornflour 
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 tsbp hot chilli powder
  • 1 tsbp chilli flakes
  • Sunflower or vegetable oil for cooking
1) Start by preparing the squid. Cut it into rings, and separate the tentacles from the rest - they're delicious too!
2) Grab a freezer/food bag and throw all the dry ingredients in. Give it a good mingle. 
3) Add the squid into the bag and give it a good rub and a shake to get it coated.
4) Heat about 3cm oil in a suitable pan. When it's bubbling away (very dangerous, folks!) throw in the calamari and cook for about a minute, or until crisp. 
5) Take it out of the pan and pop it on some kitchen roll to absorb some of the grease, et voila! 

Potted shrimp
This is like the pescatarian equivalent of pâté. It takes hardly any preparation, but it does take some thinking-in-advance about what you're going to have for tea! It's really delicious served with toasted seeded bread and lashings of butter. This recipe makes enough for two ramekins (or washed out Doritos Dip jars, if you're like us!) You'll need: 
  • 200g shrimp (defrosted, if frozen)
  • 125g salted butter
  • A bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • Juice of half a lemon
1) Melt the butter in a small saucepan. 
2) Add the bay leaf, nutmeg and cayenne pepper and cook gently for about two minutes.
3) Discard the bay leaf, and add the lemon juice and shrimp. You can finely chop the shrimp if you'd prefer a smoother finish. 
4) Pop the mixture in the jars, cover them in clingfilm and put them in the fridge. I've tried to serve after four hours before and it wasn't quite there. It's best to do around 8 hours prior to serving, or even better overnight.

We serve all of the above recipes with smoked salmon, toasted seeded brown bread, melon and a soy sauce dip. Delicious! What would you add to the seafood platter?

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