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Mock Crab or Lobster


In English practice, any one of a variety of mixtures purporting to imitate crab or lobster meat. A very popular treat from a time when fresh crustaceans were not readily available inland.

(The type of imitation crab, often in the form of 'Crab Sticks', seen since the 1970's, is a variety of the Japanese 'Surimi' - a confection of flaked white fish (often pollock) with crab flavourings.)

Original Receipt in 'The Country Housewife and Lady's Director' by Prof. R Bradley, 1728 (Bradley 1728)

To make an artificial Crab or Lobster. From Mr. F. of Buckingham.
I Suppose you have by you the large Shells of Sea-Crabs clean'd; then take part of a Calf's Liver, boil it and mince it very small, and a little Anchovy Liquor, and but very little, to give it the Fish-taste. Mix it well with a little Lemon Juice, some Pepper, and some Salt, with a little Oil, if you like it, and fill the Shells with it; and then the outside Parts of the Liver, being a little hard, will feel to the Mouth like the Claws of the Crab broken and pick'd, and the inner Parts will be soft and tender, like the Body of a Crab. One may serve this cold, and it will deceive a good Judge, if you do not put too much of the Anchovy Liquor into it. It is very good cold; but if you would have it hot, take the following Receipt.

To make artificial hot butter'd Sea-Crabs.
Have the great Shells of Crabs clean, and prepare some Liver, as before; or it you cannot get Calf's Liver, get a Lamb's Liver, or a young Sheep's Liver will do tolerably well. Boil these, and shred them as directed before, and put a little Anchovy Liquor to them; then add a little White Wine, some Pepper and Salt at pleasure, and some other Spice at discretion, with Butter necessary to make it mellow, over a gentle Fire, or a little Sallet Oil, if you like Oil. Then add a little Lemon Juice in the Shells, stirring the Mixture together. Then serve them up hot with Lemon sliced.

To make artificial Lobsters.
Practise the same Method with either of the former; and to imitate the Tail of the Lobster, put in the Tails of Shrimps, Buntings, Prawns or Cray-fish; the last cut in pieces, and serve them either upon Sippets in a Plate, or in the large Shell of the Lobster.

N.B. This is a sort of Salmy, or Salmy-Gundy, as they call it in England; but is very much like the Thing we want: and I think, if the Shrimps, or others, were put into the first, it would make it better than putting in the Anchovy Liquor; but if they are to imitate a Crab, they must, ( i.e. the Shrimps or Prawns) be chopt very small.

Original Receipt in the 'Reform Cookery Book' (4th edition) by Mrs. Mill (Mill 1909)

Mock Crab

Remove skin and seeds from ½ lb. firm, ripe tomatoes, and cut small; grate 4 ozs. rich, well-flavoured Cheddar cheese. Add to tomatoes in basin with teaspoonful made mustard, yolks of 3 hard-boiled eggs, large spoonful mushroom ketchup, a little extract, and a very little curry powder or paste. Pound all together with back of a wooden spoon till quite smooth. Serve in scallop shells, garnished with the white of egg.

Original Receipt from 'Pot-luck; or, The British home cookery book' by May Byron (Byron 1914)

350. MOCK CRAB TOAST (Derbyshire)

Pound two ounces of cheese with a dessertspoonful of anchovy sauce, the same of made mustard, the same of vinegar, a pinch of Nepaul pepper, and a little salt, the yolk of an egg, and a tablespoonful of butter. Mix thoroughly in a basin and then spread on buttered toast; put it in the oven and bake for about ten minutes. Serve piping hot

Wartime Mock Crab - Ministry of Fuel and Power
Western Daily Press - Wednesday 9 August 1944

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