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Alaska King Crab in a Warm Lemon-Cilantro Sabayon

Prep Time: 45 min

Cook Time: 10 min

Serves: 8 appetizer servings


1-1/2 pounds Alaska King crab legs (about 4 legs)
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Warm Lemon-Cilantro Sabayon:
4 large egg yolks  
1/4 cup dry white vermouth
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Small pinch cayenne pepper
6 Tablespoons heavy cream
1/4 cup chopped cilantro


Twist and separate the sections of crab legs at the joints, while pulling out the long pieces of cartilage that run into the adjacent sections.  Using kitchen shears, cut the shells open and remove the leg meat.  Pick the body meat from the sections of crab at the base of the legs.  Pat the crabmeat dry on paper towels.  You should have at least 12 ounces.

Choose eight individual gratin dishes, eight 4 to 6 ounce ramekins, or one small shallow baking dish.  Brush the inside of the dish or dishes with melted butter.  Arrange the crabmeat in the dishes, breaking the large pieces apart if necessary to fit.  Brush the crabmeat with melted butter, cover the dishes, and refrigerate until almost ready to serve.

Sabayon: Choose a medium-sized stainless steel mixing bowl and a saucepan on which it will sit.  Fill the saucepan with about 2 inches of water.  When the bowl rests on the pan, the bottom should not touch the water.  Bring the water to a boil.

Prepare a large bowl filled with ice water and have ready.

Whisk the egg yolks with the vermouth, lemon juice, mustard, salt, and cayenne in the mixing bowl.  Place it over the boiling water and whisk vigorously until the sabayon becomes very thick and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes.  Plunge the bowl the larger bowl filled with ice water, and whisk until the sabayon is cold to the touch. 

In a separate bowl, whip the heavy cream until it forms soft peaks, then whisk it into the sabayon.  Stir in the cilantro.  Refrigerate the sabayon in a covered container until you are ready to finish the dish.  It will keep up to a day.

To serve, preheat the oven to 300ºF with the oven rack in the upper third.  Bake the dish or dishes of crabmeat, uncovered, until just warm, 7 to 8 minutes.  Remove the dishes from the oven and turn the boiler on high.  Spoon the sabayon over the crabmeat.  Broil until the top of the sauce is nicely browned.  Serve right away with slices of crusty baguette.

Recipe by Jerry Traunfeld, Executive Chef, Poppy

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