I have customers who walk into Movida during summer looking for ajo blanco. We have served it for years, but only recently have people started requesting it. Initially they were a little wary of this cool soup - a specialty of the Andalucia region in Spain's south - made of bread, almonds and garlic and served with sweet grapes. But on a hot day, the refreshingly smooth white liquid clears the palate and enlivens the heat-drained body and spirit. The blue swimmer crab in this recipe can be swapped for spanner crab from south-east Queensland, an amazing sweet meat. Unsurprisingly, this soup goes well with seafood. I have served it with poached yabbies or even marron from Western Australia, if you feel like splashing out.
250g almonds, freshly blanched
50g stale heavy white bread
1 clove garlic
1/2 tsp salt
600ml chilled water
100ml mayonnaise mixed with a crushed
2 tbsp sherry vinegar
180g blue swimmer crab meat
200g sweet red grapes, peeled, cut in half and deseeded
The day before making the soup, place almonds in a bowl, cover with tap water and soak overnight. Next day, cut the crusts from the bread and discard, then cut bread into 2cm cubes. Cover bread with tap water and soak for at least two hours. Drain almonds and place in a food processor. Squeeze excess water out of bread and add to food processor with the garlic and salt. Blend, adding chilled water a little at a time to create a thick almond milk. To avoid a gritty soup, filter the milk through a very fine sieve twice without pushing it through. Add garlic mayonnaise to a medium-size stainless steel bowl. Gently whisk in almond milk a little at a time until all incorporated. Pour soup into chilled bowls and sprinkle with vinegar. Add small amounts of crab and a few grapes to each bowl.
* This recipe first appeared in Spectrum magazine (Sydney Morning Herald).