Recipe: Crayfish gnocchi with a shellfish sauce and seagrasses

Carl Shilingford forages a tasty treat Picture: CARL SHILLINGFORD

Carl Shilingford forages a tasty treat Picture: CARL SHILLINGFORD - Credit: Archant

For our first recipe local forager Carl Shillingford, who runs the wildfood restaurant at the Quay Theatre, put together a dish made with ingredients found around Sudbury.

The final result, a tasty treat full of local ingredients Picture: CARL SHILLINGFORD

The final result, a tasty treat full of local ingredients Picture: CARL SHILLINGFORD - Credit: Archant


24 crayfish



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Carl goes foraging for ingredients Picture: CARL SHILLINGFORD

Carl goes foraging for ingredients Picture: CARL SHILLINGFORD - Credit: Archant

Tin of tomatoes

Tomato Puree

Seagrass (Sea Aster and Sea Arrow Grass)

Optional: Thyme,bay, parsley, anything you have in the garden!


200g Potatoes – mashed

100g A good hard cheese

200g Plain flour

Pinch of nutmeg


1 Egg

Catching and cooking the crayfish

Please do everyone a favour and fish these delicious environmental disasters out of our waterways!

Catch like crabs- stick, string bit of bacon. Drop the bacon that’s tied to the end of the string into the water. Make sure that it is heavy enough and long enough to sit on the bottom. Wait until the string starts moving and lift gently straight up, swinging the landing net under the crayfish before they break the water.

When you have two dozen, take them home.

Boil a large pan of water and drop them in. Please ensure the water remains boiling to kill them instantly and prevent any suffering. Cook for 4 minutes and refresh under cold water.

Drain and take off the tails and any large claws that contain meat. Crack open and put meat to one side.

Making the stock and sauce

Place the shells into a roasting dish and place into a hot oven for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, chop up some onions, garlic, carrots, leeks and celery and colour in a big pan with rapeseed oil. Once you have taken the crayfish shells from the oven, add them to the vegetables and mix in a tin of tomatoes, tomato puree and any garden herbs, such as thyme, bay, parsley etc. Add enough water to sit one inch above the crayfish mix and bring to the boil. Simmer for 3 hours. Sieve the stock, add a little cream and brandy and whisk in cold butter for a rich sauce with great velocity.

Mix well in a bowl. Remove mix onto a well floured work surface. Cut into manageable sided pieces and roll into tubes. Cut into 2cm cubes and drop into boiling water for 1 minute. Remove the gnocchi from the water with a sieve straight onto an oiled tray and leave to set- about 1 hour in the fridge. For the true classical style with ridges- roll each gnocci off the back of a fork into a floured tray before cooking ( this may take a little practice but it is well worth it as when we pan fry them it allows more opportunity for the cheese in them to go golden and crispy on the outside).

Simply wash the seagrass and cook in boiling water for 1 minute before serving.

(Remember not to season as seagrass comes pre seasoned!)

Putting it together

Pan fry the gnocchi in a little rape seed oil and butter until golden. Add the crayfish meat to heat through. Place in a large dish with the seagrasses and pour over generous amounts of the sauce. Serve with a watercress salad.

Carl Shillingford is a Michelin trained chef currently runs a ‘pop up’ wildfood restaurant at the Quay Theatre in Sudbury every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night.

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