Espelette Crab Toast
Piment d’Espelette harvest is finished for the year and winter Mexican avocados are here, so I started thinking about how to combine two great things. Crab is one of my favorite shellfish, and together with avocado and a soft egg makes a delicious and satisfying meal. This simple dish only requires one technique, poaching an egg. The rest is just delicious assembly.
8-ounces of lump crab meat
1 large avocado
4 slices of bread (my favorite for this is sourdough)
2 tsp Espelette pepper
Shabazi, to taste, for garnish
Bring a sauce sauce pot half full of water to a low boil, drop the heat to low and add a good splash of white vinegar (the acidity helps the egg whites coagulate so you get a neater egg, and gives a nice flavor). Crack each egg into a small bowl or ramekin. With a spoon gently stir the water in one direction creating a spiral. Gently add one egg to the center of the vortex and keep stirring until it comes together in a nice round ball, about ten seconds. Continue this for each new egg then poach them for a total of 3 1/2 minutes. No desire to poach? This dish is great with a soft fried egg too.
Toast each piece of bread, optionally rub each piece with a cut clove of garlic to further flavor the bread, then butter generously on one side. Top each slice with 1/4 of the avocado and mash roughly into the bread with a fork. Add two ounces of crabmeat and a good dusting of Espelette pepper and top with the poached egg. Garnish with Shabazi and serve alone or with a simply dressed salad of bitter greens.
Variations & Ideas:
• Vegetarian? Try fried hearts of palm instead of the crabmeat, use olive oil instead of butter, and instead of an egg top with a halved cherry tomato salad with an olive oil, lime juice, and shabazi dressing.
• Salad: toss cubes of sourdough with butter and espelette to make croutons, then assemble over a bed of frisée and/or arugula with cubes of avocado and chunks of lump crabmeat. Top with a poached egg and serve with a creamy mustard and Shabazi vinaigrette.
• Pasta: Boil 1/2 pound of spaghetti in salted water. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water. Mash 1 ripe peeled avocado with a splash of pasta water, 1 teaspoon of lemon juice, 1 teaspoon Espelette pepper, a good splash of olive oil, and a few pats of butter. Optionally stir in two egg yolks, which will make it richer. Toss with the hot drained pasta, adding pasta water until creamy but not runny. Divide between two bowls, top with crab meat, and serve with Shabazi garlic bread.
• Pizza: Use the basic dough recipe here, or buy fresh dough pre-made. For each pie blend together 1 ripe avocado, 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 clove of finely minced garlic, and 1 teaspoon of espelette pepper. Pre-bake the dough at 525° on a parchment circle on a baking steel or stone for about 5 minutes. Spread the mix evenly over the dough then top with 8 ounces of lump crabmeat and a light grating of parmigiano reggiano, bake for a couple minutes more, just to warm through. Garnish with additional Espelette and Shabazi if desired. Also fantastic topped with a fried egg.
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