Wow, I can't believe it's been a year since lockdown happened, and yet ... we all still seem to be in the same page since before. I sometimes don't know whether to laugh or cry, or both, but one thing's for certain though -- cooking or baking centers me. So I keep doing it, to give me equal measures of sanity, control and contentment.
Concurrently, I know I have been posting so late and there's really no excuse for procrastination. While I continued to cook and bake, I was caught up with mum duties, caring for two fur babies who bicker, fight, annoy each other, just like human siblings do. Thank goodness we found help who has been so wonderful with the pups, and has allowed me to free up my time to do other things.
This crab and spinach phyllo (or filo) pie was inspired by two things I had been obsessing about: crab meat dressing and phyllo sheets. I was hesitant to use phyllo previously, thinking they would just crumble or tear, but after learning to apply it in desserts (see Milk Roses Cake recipe), I became quite emboldened and wanted to use phyllo sheets for a savoury recipe this time. Meat like chicken, pork or beef felt like it would be too heavy for the thin, tissue paper-like sheets, and would be more suited to a puff pastry dough, so I went for crabmeat. Come to think of it, fish could be a good base as well for a dish using phyllo sheets. Maybe next time, I'll shred some white fish and use this instead.
A tip to ensure phyllo sheets roll out smoothly from the package: transfer the box from the freezer to refrigerator the day of preparation, and let the sheets chill inside for at least 2 hours. When it is time to prepare the ingredients, it is easier to unfurl the phyllo sheets from the box without tear. Place the sheets on top of a slightly damp tea towel, and cover them with the same towel (if long enough) or a slightly damp kitchen paper towel.
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 8 minutes
Baking time: 18 minutes
Total time: 31 minutes
Serving: 1 pie, 8-10 slices
1 bunch scallions or small onion, cut into thin slices
5 cloves garlic, minced
250 grams or 8 oz spinach leaves, fully washed
1 pound or 16 oz crab meat, drained
1/2 tablespoon salt
1/2 tablespoon cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1.5 teaspoon thyme (dried is fine)
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon chilli oil
50 grams or 1/2 cup of parmesan or pecorino Romano cheese
5 sheets store-bought phyllo pastry
2 tablespoons olive oil
1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Drain any remaining water from crab meat and spinach.
2. Heat cast-iron skillet in medium heat, pouring in a tablespoon of olive oil. Once oil is hot (use the water test: pour a few drops of water in the pan, and if they sizzle, the pan is ready for cooking), toss in scallions and garlic. Stir together.
Pile the spinach on top, coating with the aromatics for about a minute or two.
Pour in crabmeat, sprinkling in salt, pepper, pepper flakes, thyme, lemon zest and chilli oil. Toss to coat and allow to cook for another 5-6 minutes. Turn off heat.
3. Grate cheese on top, coating the entire skillet.
Layer the phyllo sheets by draping and crinkling them, carefully tucking in the sides of the pan, until the whole dish is covered. Sprinkle some more cheese and drizzle the remaining tablespoon of olive oil all over.
Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until golden and crispy. Let cool for a few minutes before slicing into wedges and serving.