Maren Caruso
Crayfish & Spring Vegetable Stew with Spicy Crayfish Jelly
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Crayfish & Spring Vegetable Stew with Spicy Crayfish Jelly

Coi: Stories and Recipes, Daniel Patterson - December 22nd, 2013

This recipe has been adapted from Coi: Stories and Recipes by Daniel Patterson―a book featured in Word-to-Table Cooking, Food Arts' yearly roundup of chef-authored cookbooks.

Serves 4

Seared crayfish:

  • 1,530g live crayfish
  1. Reserve 12 crayfish for steamed tails; kill the rest by cutting them in half (cut through the head first and then through the tail, humming the executioner’s song). Crayfish are angry little creatures, so you should probably plan on being nipped at least once. And keep an eye on them—they’re escape artists that will die a slow and stinky death under your kitchen table. Spray out the insides that you exposed and drain them.

  2. For the crayfish broth and oil, heat the olive oil to smoking in a wide (nonreactive, heavy-bottomed) pan; add the crayfish; sear, stirring often, until they turn bright red.

  3. Remove the pan from the heat; grind the crayfish slightly by pulsing in a food processor. Your machine will hate this, by the way, and it probably voids the warranty, but your sauce will be the better for it, by exposing as much surface area of the crayfish as possible.

Crayfish oil:

  • 200ml pure olive oil

To make the crayfish oil, combine 200g cooked crayfish and the olive oil; cook 2 to 3 hours at a bare simmer, until the oil tastes deliciously of crayfish. Strain through cheesecloth.

Crayfish broth:

  • 100ml white wine
  • 75g fennel, sliced
  • 75g onion, sliced
  • 1.5K water
  • 5g dried piquillo pepper
  • 1/2 hot chile
  • 5g dried tomato
  • 1/2 stalk lemongrass, smashed and chopped
  • 1/2 med. knob ginger, sliced
  • salt
  • lime juice
  • rice wine vinegar

For the broth, add the remainder (720g) of the seared crayfish back to the pan; add wine to deglaze. Reduce by 3/4; add fennel, onion, water, pepper, chile, and tomato; simmer 1 1/2 to 2 hours, partly covered, until flavorful. Strain the broth, reserving 250ml of liquid for the jelly. For the rest, add lemongrass and ginger; cover. You’re making an infusion, like a tea—keep it hot and covered but don’t cook it. When the flavors right—the aromatics present and fresh but not overwhelming, about 20 minutes—strain it through cheesecloth. Season with salt, lime juice, and vinegar.

Spicy crayfish jelly:

  • salt
  • dried red chile, ground
  • 0.67g gellan LT
  • 0.33g gellan F

For the jelly, reduce 250ml crayfish broth to 200ml; season with salt and chile powder. Season it heavily, because the gellan will diminish the seasoning. Cool. Weigh and blend with the gellan LT and gellan F. Bring it to a good, rolling boil; pour into a metal container to set at room temperature (don’t jiggle the container while it’s setting).

Assembly:

  • 12 live crayfish
  • 4 spring onions
  • 2 heads baby fennel
  • 2 young artichokes
  • 2 Tbsps. young peas
  • 2 Tbsps. fava beans
  • pea shoots
  • fava bean flowers
  • 2 baby turnips
  • salt
  1. Steam the crayfish at 212°F for 3 minutes, or until cooked. (You may be tempted to try this at a lower temperature. Let me assure you that we have done it for you. The texture is not nice. 212°F is good.) We use the Combi oven for this, as it’s the only way to get an exact temperature, although you could certainly steam them in the usual way, in a basket set over a pot of boiling water. Cool the crayfish in the refrigerator, and then shell and clean the tails.

  2. We use up to 10 different spring vegetables—here’s a selection above. The main thing to remember is that each vegetable should be handled sensitively, based on its flavor and texture. Tiny Tokyo turnips might be good whole, but if slightly larger they should be cut in half or sliced. Cook them as much as you think they need to reveal their fullest flavor. It’s spring, so at least some of the ingredients should be delicious raw.

  3. We like to use vegetables like little, new onions and young fennel, which should be cooked in salted water, set aside to cool, and then trimmed as necessary. Cook the young artichokes with vegetable stock and olive oil in a bag at 185°F. Cool and trim. English peas and fava beans should be peeled and cooked to order. Pea shoots, fava flowers and shaved turnip should be raw.

  4. To serve, heat the broth with peas and favas until just cooked, about a minute. Add the cooked onion, artichoke, and fennel, and warm through. Off heat, add 3 crayfish tails and 3 scoops of crayfish jelly, cover for a minute until they’re warm, then transfer the vegetables and broth to a bowl. Drizzle a large spoonful of crayfish oil over everything—the oil will balance the acidity in the sauce and add another layer of flavor. Garnish with pea shoots, shaved turnip, and fava flowers.

From the book, Coi: Stories and Recipes by Daniel Patterson (Phaidon, $49. 95, October 2013).