Blue swimmer crab with almond gazpacho and sweet corn custard

Blue swimmer crab with almond gazpacho and sweet corn custard

By
From
Marque
Serves
12
Photographer
Stuart Scott

In Australia we are blessed to have what I consider to be the king of crabs, the blue swimmer, Portunus pelagicus. The blue swimmer crab is essentially a tropical species of crab that has adapted to the cooler conditions of southern Australia. South Australia is probably near the lower limit of the crab’s temperature range but having tried the tropical version I think the cold water suits it.

This recipe started as a simple combination of crab and almond. The crab remains king here but the almonds are taken on a textural exploration. The inspiration for this dish was a classic blancmange (I mean going way back when almonds were pounded, then mixed with water, sugar and calves’ foot jelly and passed through a horse-hair sieve).

Ingredients

Method

  1. To make the corn custard, take 8 ripe, sweet corn cobs and use a sharp kitchen knife to shave the kernels from the cob, being careful not to slice too deeply into the cob or the flavour of the resulting custard will be bitter. Use a Thermomix to blend the corn kernels on speed six until a fine purée is achieved. Push through a chinoise with the back of a ladle. Retain the juice and discard the solids. Return the liquid to the Thermomix, set the temperature to 80°C and blend on speed five for 4 to 5 minutes until thickened. Depending on the season and the quality of the corn this time may vary. Place in a suitable container and cool. Refrigerate until required.
  2. To make the almond gazpacho, soak 200 grams sourdough bread (without crusts) in 750 millilitres water. Use a slotted spoon to put the soaked bread into the Thermomix then add half the soaking water. Add 200 grams slivered almonds, 150 millilitres extra virgin olive oil and 1 finely chopped garlic clove and blend on speed nine to a smooth paste. Add the remaining soaking water to achieve a pouring consistency, then season with a good grind of white pepper and Murray River pink salt to taste. Pass the mixture through a chinoise and refrigerate until required.
  3. To make the almond milk, cook 150 grams slivered almonds, 175 millilitres dry vermouth, 2 garlic cloves and ½ teaspoon white peppercorns in a heavy-based saucepan over a low heat until the vermouth has evaporated. Add 1 litre milk and allow to macerate over a low heat for 1 hour. Blend with a wand blender then pass through a chinoise. Measure 800 millilitres of the almond milk.
  4. Soak 25 grams leaf gelatine in cold water until soft . Squeeze out the excess water from the gelatine and put in a large heatproof bowl with 100 millilitres of the almond milk. Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water.
  5. Heat until the gelatine has melted, then whisk in the remaining almond milk. Pass through a chinoise. Refrigerate until the jelly has set. Place the jelly in a heavily chilled 2 litre mixer bowl. Whisk on high speed until the jelly looks like Italian meringue. Transfer to an 8 centimetre deep container. Refrigerate until required.
  6. To make the popcorn powder, heat 50 grams clarified butter in a heavy-based saucepan with matching lid over a moderate heat. Add 200 grams popcorn kernels. Gently shake the pan until the first kernel pops then quickly cover with the lid and keep the pan moving until all the remaining corn has popped. Season with fine table salt then allow to cool. Blend the popcorn in a high-speed blender until pulverised to a fine powder. Store in an airtight container until required.
  7. Choose 8 large very fresh blue swimmer crabs around 350 to 400 grams each. Remove the legs and claws from the crabs and reserve. Remove the back shells and discard. Remove and discard the lung filters and any gut. Steam the claws and legs in a combi steam oven at 100°C for 9 minutes. Remove from the oven and chill them quickly in a blast chiller, then refrigerate until required. Steam the bodies for 12 minutes and then chill in the same fashion. Carefully remove all meat from the shell with a crab pick, making sure not to include any cartilage.
  8. To serve, place 1 teaspoon of corn custard in the centre of each bowl. Surround this with a ring of crabmeat. Spoon the almond gazpacho over the meat. Use a hot dessertspoon to scoop a cone of almond jelly and then place onto the middle of the crab. Garnish the jelly with a little coldpressed almond oil and 1 teaspoon of the popcorn powder. Finish with 1 teaspoon Avruga.
Tags:
Marque
Mark
Best
Pei
Modern
restaurant
chef
high
end
fine
dining
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