Crab and “Crab”: King Crab, Crab Apple, Basil and Olive Oil Jam

I so need to work on my presentation skills. Funny thing is I had a much better “scheme” for this plate on paper, but not sure why I did not follow it last-minute. Oh well, next time around. One thing I can say is that flavor-wise this worked wonderfully and it really does not look too horrible…just not as nice as I intended.

The dish started when I bought a few crab apples and made a sorbet from them. I used a recipe from the “Alinea Cookbook” for that sorbet. At Alinea they serve the sorbet as part of a cheese course of sorts, along with an olive oil jam, cheddar, onions, eucalyptus and pepper tuile. I wanted to use some of those components but wanted to make a dish with king crab legs, admittedly being able to name the dish Crab and Crab was part of the attraction. However, I knew the combination would also taste good. Sort of a substantial salad course, made with lovely chunks of king crab legs.

The sorbet is made with crab apple that were cooked sous vide until tender and then passed through a sieve. The apple puree was mixed with sugar and a little salt. The end result is a bit more savory than a regular sorbet and, because it is made with crab apples, a little high on tannins giving the mixture a bit of a puckery mouth feel if that makes any sense. The sorbet was delicious but I cannot see it standing on it’s own, it’s definitely designed to be part of a multi-component dish.

The pepper tuile is made with isomalt, glucose and fondant. The mixture comes up to 320F temp, is poured into a sheet and allowed to cool. Then I ground it up in a coffee grinder to a fine powder. From this point on the tuile can be flavored in any number of ways with spices and sieved in an even layer and baked for a few minutes until it’s melted. It can be shaped, broken into shards or used to encase ingredients (like the pork belly here for example). As far as I know this process was pioneered by the crack team at elBulli in Spain. In this case the tuile was flavored with lots of black pepper and broken into irregular shards. It looked like glass and had a nice pepper kick. The olive oil jam, also from Alinea, is sort of a sweet cross between a custard and mayonnaise! Sounds gross, I know, but absolutely addictive. It’s made with olive oil, trimoline (invert sugar), eggs and meyer lemon juice.

Other than peeling the crab legs, I barely did anything to them. I just heated them briefly in olive oil and dressed them with a little meyer lemon juice. The basil spheres were made by mixing basil puree with calcium lactate and sugar and then freezing the mixture in ice cube trays. Before service the cubes go into a sodium alginate mixture until the outside sets and encases the sweet basil mixture. The plates were garnished with preserved meyer lemon, cut into a dice.

Needless to say I had a good bit of bits and pieces of crab other than what was served in this dish. These were sauteed with shallots, garlic and smoked paprika. Delicious on toast with a squeeze of lemon.

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3 thoughts on “Crab and “Crab”: King Crab, Crab Apple, Basil and Olive Oil Jam”

    1. Hello MIRA-
      Yeah, I am Lebanese living in Texas.

      The idea to freeze the basil sauce (or any other liquid sauce) that is mixed with Calcium Lactate and is intended to be made into a sauce “sphere” is from the brilliant folks at Alinea Restaurant (http://www.alinea-restaurant.com/). The process is used numerous times in the Alinea cookbook. It is much easier to deal with a solid frozen block of sauce as opposed to a liquid. So, all you do is drop the cube of frozen sauce in the warm Sodium Alginate bath and as the outside gels, the inside melts. At the same time the block naturally takes the shape of a sphere.
      In instances where the product that is to be gelled into a sphere is already semi-solid, like the thick yogurt here: https://foodfilmcorner.wordpress.com/2009/06/01/peas-beets-and-yogurt/, you do not need to freeze it. Just drop it by the spoonful into the Alginate bath.

  1. Absolutely nailing the presentation on complex dishes is quite hard. But is still looks great man.

    Ever since Deadliest Catch I always think of waves crashing on a little boat when seeing these crab legs.

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