After a long winter, warm weather temps are much-anticipated; the same can be said when talking about produce. Asparagus is practically equivalent to springtime; its short harvest season provides chefs with a challenge of acting swiftly and appropriately to create dishes popping with both color and flavor.
At one-Michelin-starred Dusek’s (Board & Beer) in Chicago, chef Michael Galen crafts a salad out of the bright green stalk, adding more spring ingredients like shaved fennel, frisée and arugula, before topping it off with jumbo lump crab meat, tarragon sabayon and confit egg yolks.
Here’s how to make it at home.
Asparagus & Crab SaladRecipe courtesy of Chef Michael Galen, Dusek’s (Board & Beer), Chicago
For the Lemon Dressing:
60 grams egg yolks (about three yolks)
20 grams lemon juice
15 grams tarragon vinegar
8 grams garlic
175 grams blended oil
5 grams tarragon, finely chopped
Salt, to taste
Lemon zest, to taste
For the Tarragon Sabayon:
75 grams egg yolk
50 grams tarragon vinegar
5 grams honey
Salt, to taste
For the Salad:
225 grams jumbo lump crab meat
25 grams bell peppers, brunoise
15 grams shallot, brunoise
1 French baguette, skin removed and torn into small shapes
Blended oil, for toasting
Salt, to taste
1 bunch of jumbo asparagus, woody ends cut off, peeled, blanched and cut
100 grams shaved fennel (about ½ a bulb)
100 grams baby arugula
100 grams frisée cleaned, leaving a small amount of darker green
5 grams tarragon leaves
1 lemon, for zesting
For the Confit Egg Yolks (Optional)
150 grams vegetable oil, plus more for holding
40 grams egg yolks
1. Make the Dressing: With an immersion blender, combine the egg yolks, lemon juice, vinegar, and garlic until smooth. Slowly stream in the oil while blending to form a loose mayo. Add the tarragon and season with salt and lemon zest.
2. Make the Sabayon: Whisk all ingredients together until smooth. Then, over a double boiler, whisk vigorously until a nice frothy consistency. (You may need to remove form the heat and return a few times to prevent from scrambling eggs.**) Reserve warm.
3. Make the Salad: Fold the crab, bell pepper, shallot and 50 grams Lemon Dressing together, being careful to keep the lumps intact. Reserve.
4. Toss the bread in some blended oil and salt and bake at 325˚F until toasted, 10 to 12 minutes. Reserve the croutons.
5. Mix the asparagus stalks (reserve tips for garnish), shaved fennel, arugula, frisée, tarragon, some lemon zest, and the reserved croutons with enough Lemon Dressing to lightly coat. Season with some salt.
6. Make the Confit Egg Yolks: Heat the oil to 180˚F and, using a squeeze bottle, squeeze the yolks into the oil in large drops with some space between. Yolks will float to top within seconds, scoop out with a slotted spoon and hold in cool oil.
7. To serve: Divide the salad into 6 servings and plate in circles with a hole in the middle. Each salad should have a fair distribution of ingredients. Place five small piles of the crab mixture onto each of the serving plates in a star pattern. Garnish each with some asparagus tips and Confit Egg Yolks, if using. Place the Tarragon Sabayon in center just before serving.
**TIP: Keep a little warm water on the side of your station. Should your eggs begin to scramble, whisk in a tablespoon of water at a time to help emulsify.
Photos courtesy of Dusek's (Board & Beer).