Crab Spring Roll with Coconut Dressing
Borrowing techniques from both crispy egg rolls and delicate spring rolls, Chef Marc Guizol rolls a spring roll wrapper (available in Asian markets) around delectable stone crab meat moistened with mayonnaise. He pan fries the rolls until crisp, then sets two on a bed of sweet-sour pineapple chutney. The finishing touch is a seductive coconut dressing. Coconut milk is available canned in the ethnic grocery section of most supermarkets. All these techniques are within the reach of the home cook, and if stone crab claws are not available (the season is October 15 to May 15), you may substitute lump blue crab meat, available in tins, fresh, frozen or pasteurized. A one-pound tin of canned crab meat contains 14 ounces of meat, drained. In this recipe the chef calls for 1 ounce of stone crab meat (about 2 tablespoons) for each spring roll. If you use lump crab meat, it's easy to turn leftovers into a crab salad or sandwich. The micro cilantro the chef uses for garnish is one of the latest trends: often organically grown "baby" herbs and lettuces such as mache.
- Stone crab meat - 4 ounces, or lump blue crab meat, drained
- Mayonnaise - 3 to 4 tablespoons
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Onion - 3 tablespoons, minced
- Coconut Milk - 1 cup
- Rice Wine Vinegar - 6 tablespoons, divided
- Fresh Pineapple - 1/2, peeled, cored, diced
- Honey - 3 tablespoons
- Star Anise - 2
- Cinnamon Stick - 1
- Spring roll wrappers - 8
- Clarified Butter - as needed (see Cooking Basics)
- Micro or regular cilantro - for garnish
Pick over the crab meat, discarding any cartilage, shell bits, or tough pieces. Chop crab meat, add mayonnaise just to moisten and mix. Salt and pepper very lightly to taste, and refrigerate covered.
Meanwhile place the minced onion in a cheesecloth or clean towel or napkin and squeeze out onion juice and discard. Place onion in a 2-cup nonreactive container. Add coconut milk, 3 tablespoons of the rice wine vinegar, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Using a hand-held immersion blender, blend mixture to puree onions and emulsify sauce. Refrigerate, covered.
In a large, 12-inch skillet, combine pineapple, honey, the remaining 3 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar, anise and cinnamon. Cook over medium heat and reduce until slightly thickened, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat, and set aside to cool.
Working with one spring roll wrapper at a time, brush each wrapper completely with clarified butter. Place 1 tablespoon of the crabmeat-mayonnaise mixture in the middle of one side. Roll once around and gently press meat out to fill roll, leaving about 1 inch on each end. Roll the first third of the wrapper. Tuck under the ends, and finish rolling. Repeat with remaining 7 spring roll wrappers. Film the bottom of a saute pan with olive oil and heat over medium heat. Pan fry the rolls, seam side down, turning when one side is golden brown. Continue turning until all sides are golden brown.
To serve: Position a section of PVC pipe or a 2-inch cookie cutter in the middle of a small plate. Spoon in some of the pineapple chutney. Remove the PVC or cookie cutter. Place two spring rolls on top of the chutney. Spoon coconut dressing around. Garnish with cilantro. Repeat, using two spring rolls per serving, until all four appetizers are prepared and garnished.