Monterey Bay Dungeness CrabPreserved Buddha’s Hand, Wood Sorrel, Meyer Lemon
Dungeness crab season begins in early December; just as the winter rains begin to bring up tender wood sorrel shoots. Wood sorrel, which resembles common clover, has a pleasant flavor and acidity similar to lemon. The brininess of the fresh Dungeness crab with the brightness of the sorrel works perfectly together. I use a variety of local citrus to compliment the dish and would recommend that you adapt the recipe to the citrus you have readily available in your local area.
When picking wood sorrel (also known as Oxalis) I like to find small, bright green, leaves. (The large leaves tend to become fibrous as they get older.) I also look for patches of sorrel growing in loose soil or among fallen leaves. These plants will have longer roots that those growing in hard packed areas. The roots, particularly the young pink and white ones, have the same acidity as the leaves, but are balanced by a slight sweetness and refreshingly crisp texture.
Preparing the Crabs
2 Large, Live Dungeness Crabs
1 gallon water
½ cup white soy sauce
1 small ginger root
1 fresh shallot
1 kaffir lime leaf
1 halved vanilla bean
1 star anise
- Fill a large pot with water and place on stove over high heat.
- When the water begins to boil, add the remaining ingredients and stir to incorporate.
- Add the live crabs to the pot and keep pot over high heat until it returns to a simmer.
- Once the water reaches a simmer, turn heat down to low and continue cooking for 8 minutes.
- Carefully remove the crabs from the pot using long tongs and immediately put into a container with water and ice. (continue to simmer liquid once crab is removed).
- Keep the crabs in the ice until they are cool – (3-4 minutes)
- Remove the large top shell of the crab by pulling up on the back of the shell, then use a small cocktail fork to remove the body meat. (reserve the shells)
- Gently crack each leg section (either with your hands, pliers or other cracking device). Try to remove the leg meat in whole sections. (reserve the shells)
- Place the empty shells back in the pot and continue simmering/reducing for 1 hour- then strain and cool.
2 cups of the crab stock (above)
3 whole organic-free range eggs
1 tsp fresh shallot (peeled and grated on microplane)
1 tsp meyer yuzu zest (use microplane)
1 tsp espelette chile powder
1 tbs white soy
- Mix all of the above ingredients in a bowl with a whisk. Do this gently to avoid incorporating air.
- Pour the mixture into small oven safe ramekins that have been well sprayed.
- Place ramekins in a baking dish and fill dish ½ full of warm water.
- Place the uncovered tray of ramekins in a 300 degree oven for 1 hour- or until they are just firm to the touch.
- Once firm to touch- remove the tray from oven and cool at room temperature.
Dressing for the Crab
1 tsp grated shallot
1 tsp grated ginger
1 tsp grated yuzu zest
1 tbs fresh yuzu juice
1 tbs white soy
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbs olive oil
- Combine all ingredients and adjust seasoning to taste.
Candied Buddha’s Hand
1 Buddha’s Hand Citron
1 cup water
2 tbs kosher salt
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup unseasoned rice wine vinegar
1 tsp espelette chile powder
- Bring water, sugar, rice vinegar, espelette and ginger to a simmer.
- Slice the buddha’s hand lengthwise on a mandoline.
- Place the slices of citrus into the hot syrup and simmer for 2 minutes.
- Remove from heat and cool at room temperature.
- You should keep the preserved buddha’s hand submerged and in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours- however, it will last for 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
2 cups of the picked crab body meat
1 cup canola oil
1 tbs kosher salt
1 tsp espelette
- Squeeze all of the liquid out of the crab meat.
- Place the canola oil in a large saute pan and place on high heat.
- Once the oil starts to smoke, carefully place pieces of the crab into the oil.
- Once the piece begins to brown- remove with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel lined plate.
- Season the crispy crab pieces with salt and espelette.
Finishing and Assembling the Crab-
1 mandarin orange (peeled and segments separated)
2 finger limes (squeeze our pearls)
1 cup of fresh wood sorrel leaves, roots and flowers
½ Cup tiny red shiso leaves
1 meyer lemon – shaved into thin slices
- Place the room temperature custard in the middle of a plate or bowl.
- Gently toss the crab leg segments with the dressing.
- Arrange the leg segments next to the custard.
- Top with the crispy crab pieces.
- Arrange the candied Buddha’s hand, orange segments, finger lime pearls, sorrel leaves, sorrel roots, sorrel flowers, shiso and shaved meyer lemon around plate.
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