Notes: So, this was like a crab salad with salt & vinegar chips, a molecular "seafood picnic." the flavors and textures were very good, but I didn't care for the texture of the crab, which was very dense and compacted, probably adhered with meat glue. The wrapper on the crab cigar had a distincly yeasty flavor. I wish it were crisp. Instead, it was like a very thin wrapper that tasted like bread crust. The celery salt flavor was very obvious, a little too strong.
THIS SMALL CRAB that inhabits the craggy eastern coastline rocks, and particularly the Penobscot Bay in Maine, weighs often less than a pound. It lay there, underutilized by the rest of the world, until one of my favorite suppliers, Rod Mitchell, owner of the Browne Trading Company, decided to “officialize” its slang name. Often called mud or sand crab or even rock crab, the leggy specimen was branded the peekytoe crab. Mitchell got into his truck, drove to New York, and brought us some to taste. Since that day, it has become our crab of choice.
Because they are so delicate, the crabs cannot be shipped alive, so they have to be cooked in Maine and the shells picked, often by the fishermen’s wives, very carefully. At the restaurant, we pluck the remainder of the minuscule pieces of shells by placing them in a dark room and flashing a black neon light to highlight every speckle of shell.
In this recipe, the slightly tart apple exalts the sweetness of the crab. Since my days at Le Cirque, I have been playing with flaky crabmeat, celery, and apple in new ways every season, and this recipe is a variation of the original combination.
Peel at least six 3-inch strips from the apples and square off the edges; reserve for apple skin chips. Cut the apples into at least six 2 × ½-inch batons; cut 1 tablespoon of the trim into brunoise for the salad.
Season the apple batons with the celery salt, salt, and pepper and transfer to a small saucepan. Add the walnut oil and set over medium-low heat. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples are tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Reserve, chilled.
For the Apple Pickle Coins
Peel the apple and, using a mandoline, cut into ⅛-inch slices. With a 1-inch ring cutter, punch out at least 12 “coins” and place in a shallow heatproof container. In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar and sugar and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar, then pour the mixture over the coins. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 3 days.
For the Apple Cider Gelée
Soak the gelatin sheets in a bowl of ice water for 10 minutes; squeeze dry. In a small saucepan, whisk the cold egg whites and cider to combine. Place over medium heat and simmer for 10 minutes, undisturbed, allowing the egg whites to cook and form a “raft” on the surface. Remove from the heat and carefully scoop the clarified cider (so as not to break the raft) with a ladle through a fine-meshed sieve. Measure 2 cups clarified cider into a small saucepan, warm to just below a simmer, and stir in the gelatin until dissolved. Cool the liquid to room temperature and stir in the poppy seeds. Pour onto a rimmed baking dish or plate to form a ¼-inch-thick layer. Refrigerate uncovered, making sure to keep it flat, for 4 hours, or until set. Using a paring knife, slice the gelée into at least six ¼-inch-wide by 1½-inch-long batons. Reserve, chilled.
For the Celery Root Chips, Coins, and Puree
For the chips, fill one-third of a medium saucepan with canola oil and heat to 300°F. Cut the celery root in half. With a mandoline, cut nine ⅛-inch slices from a flat edge. With a 1-inch ring cutter, punch out at least 12 discs; reserve the scraps for the puree. Fry 6 of the discs until crisp but not browned. Drain onto a paper towel–lined tray, sprinkle with salt, and cool.
For the coins, bring a small pot of salted water to a boil and place a bowl of ice water on the side. Boil 6 discs for 30 seconds, then transfer to the ice water to chill. Strain, pat dry, and reserve, chilled.
For the puree, roughly chop the remaining celery root (approximately ¾ pound) from the chips and coins. Place the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat and cook until browned. Add the celery root, milk, and enough water to cover; bring to a simmer. Cook until tender, about 12 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the celery root to a blender and puree with enough of the cooking liquid to make a smooth puree. Pass through a fine-meshed sieve into a bowl set over ice and season with salt and pepper.
For the Pomegranate Reduction
Place the pomegranate juice in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Reduce by two-thirds, then remove from the heat and cool to room temperature. Whisk in the xanthan gum until well combined. Pass through a fine-meshed sieve into a bowl and reserve, chilled.
For the Apple Celery Sauce
Core the apples and cut them into quarters. With a vegetable juicer, juice the apples and celery into a bowl and add the lemon juice. Using a hand blender, mix in the remaining ingredients. Strain through a fine-meshed sieve into a bowl and reserve, chilled.
For the Crab Salad
Up to 1 hour before serving, in a medium bowl, combine the crabmeat, celery root, apple, mayonnaise, mustards, vinegar, walnut oil, chives, and chervil. Season with salt and pepper and reserve, chilled.
With a Japanese Chiba Peel S turning slicer, slice the Granny Smith apples and trim into twelve 8 × 3-inch sheets. On a flat surface, line the sheets of apple vertically in a single layer. Lightly brush lemon juice on both sides. Divide the crab salad on top of each apple sheet into mounds at the end closest to you. One by one, roll the apple sheets away from you into tight rolls around the crab salad. Press a celery root coin against one end of each roll and an apple pickle coin on the other end. Lightly press one end of the crab roll with crushed walnuts to coat. Reserve, chilled.
For each serving, brush a streak of walnut glaze onto the bottom of a chilled plate. Place 2 rolls of crab on top. Spoon 3 dots of celery root puree in between the rolls and place a dot of pomegranate reduction, 1 pomegranate seed, and 1 leaf of micro celery in the center of each dot. Rest 1 baton of apple confit against 1 crab roll and 1 baton of apple cider gelée against the other roll. Garnish the rolls with 1 celery root chip, 1 apple skin chip, and 2 celery leaves. Pour approximately 3 tablespoons apple celery sauce onto the plate.