Warm Salad of Crayfish with Cucumbers and Dill

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There is some controversy regarding the cooking of crayfish—whether to bring them up to the boil from cold liquid, or just to throw them in boiling liquid. I think the latter method produces the firmest flesh, and is easier to time. If you don’t have crayfish, lobster would do, and substitute tarragon for the dill. If you use prawns and shrimp, substitute basil for dill. Do not hesitate with the butter. The recipe here is for a main luncheon dish. For a first course, halve the recipe.

Ingredients

  • 2 quarts court bouillon
  • 48 crayfish
  • 1 cup fish stock
  • 2 English cucumbers
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup tomato concasse
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 32 sprigs dill

Method

Bring the court bouillon to a boil. Cook the crayfish in 2 batches for 5 minutes, or more if the liquid takes a long time to come back to a boil. Take the crayfish out and let them cool. Take the heads off and shell the tails. Save 16 of the best heads for garnish.

Put the tail shells in a food processor and grind them up. Put the debris in the fish stock and simmer for 15 minutes. Strain the stock and discard the shells.

Peel the cucumbers and cut them lengthwise in half. Scoop the seeds out with a spoon. Make “noodles” of them in the food processor, using the julienne disk, or with a mandoline.

Heat the fish stock in a sauté pan. Add the cucumber noodles and cook for 5 minutes. Add the chopped dill, butter, and tomato concasse; season with salt and pepper. Toss or stir together until the butter is incorporated. Add the crayfish tails and cook, tossing constantly, until the tails are heated through, about 2 minutes. Arrange on plates and garnish with the dill sprigs and crayfish heads.

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