One chef, one ingredient: Christopher Hache of Paris's Crillon talks crab
If you are what you eat, then it could be said that chefs are what they cook. Christopher Hache, the head chef of Les Ambassadeurs in Paris's Crillon hotel, selected crab.
Why did you choose this ingredient?
Christopher Hache: I love this ingredient because it goes with any product that happens to be in season. How it's prepared depends on the recipe.
What's your favorite memory associated with the product?
CH: No specific memory related to crab comes to mind but I must admit that it is always amusing to watch cooks not used to working with it trying to prepare it. People tend to be somewhat apprehensive about it since it is alive right before it's cooked. Those who are new to preparing crustaceans sometimes forget, for example, that you must always keep an eye on it before cooking it. If it is left on a worktop and isn't watched, it can quickly make its escape..
When is the ingredient in season?
CH: The advantage of this product is that one can work with it all the time.
What's the best way to cook it?
CH: Ideally, it should be cooked when it is still alive and poached in a mixture of wine, carrots, onions and celery. It needs to be cooked for between a quarter of an hour and 20 minutes depending on its size. Female crabs take more time to cook because they're fleshier.
What other ingredients can be paired with?
CH: I like offering a new approach to crab. It can be eaten with mayonnaise, wasabi, radish and lamb's lettuce topped off with a zest of lemon. It is one of the recipes on the menu at my restaurant Les Ambassadeurs at the Crillon.
What are the most common mistakes people make when cooking with this ingredient?
The worst thing when one is eating crab is to come across a piece of shell. It can even be dangerous. Cooking crab is also a delicate affair. To make sure it is perfectly cooked, one should break a claw and look inside.
Which wine goes best with this ingredient?
CH: Wines from Alsace are perfect, a Riesling for example.