Crab Towers & Smoked Miso Salmon

Crab TowersI’m always so ready for fall .. glad to say goodbye to long, hot summer days, and welcome the harvest season.  Last weekend I had a few extra avocados perfectly ripened and ready to go, so what to make? My idea of a perfect Sunday night dinner (while watching just one more football game!) .. crab towers and smoked salmon with a healthy stir fry.  Check this out ..

viniagretteCrab Towers with Avocado & Gazpacho Salsas
Serves 6
I found this recipe on Cooks Illustrated a few years back, and have made it numerous times .. super fresh and the flavors work well together. You can prepare the crabmeat salad and gazpacho salsa several hours ahead of serving, but the avocado salsa should be prepared just before assembly.

Crabmeat Salad
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest or minced
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon table saltavocado
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
12 ounces lump crabmeat (or backfin), preferably Atlantic blue crabmeat, carefully picked over for shell fragmentsgazpacho salsa

Gazpacho Salsa
1 yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into 1/8-inch pieces (about 1/2 cup)
1 medium plum tomato, cored, seeded, and cut into 1/8-inch pieces (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 small cucumber, peeled if desired, seeded, and cut into 1/8-inch pieces (about 1/2 cup)
1 small rib celery, cut into 1/8-inch pieces (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 small red onion, minced (about 1/4 cup)
1/2 small jalapeño chile, stemmed, seeded, and minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro leaves
3/4 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

avocadoAvocado Salsa
3 avocados (ripe), cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons lime juice from 1 lime

Garnish
1 cup frisée
2 oranges, peeled using a paring knife and segmented

1. FOR THE CRABMEAT SALAD: Whisk the olive oil, champagne vinegar,
lemon zest, mustard, salt, and pepper together in a small bowl. Measure 3
tablespoons of the vinaigrette into a medium bowl and mix with the
mayonnaise. Add the crabmeat to the mayonnaise mixture and toss to coat.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed. Set the remaining
vinaigrette aside.

2. FOR THE GAZPACHO SALSA: Toss the yellow bell pepper, cucumber,
tomato, celery, red onion, jalapeño, cilantro, salt, pepper, olive oil, and
sherry vinegar in a medium bowl and set aside.

3. FOR THE AVOCADO SALSA: Toss the avocado, coriander, salt, pepper,
and lime juice in a medium bowl and set aside.

building the towers4. TO ASSEMBLE: Place a 3-inch-wide round biscuit cutter in the center of an individual plate. Use a slotted spoon to press 1/3 cup of the Avocado Salsa into the bottom of the cutter using the back of a soup spoon. Lift the cutter off the plate slightly to reveal some but not all of the avocado. Holding the cutter aloft, press 1/3 cup of the Crabmeat Salad evenly into the cutter on top of the avocado. Lift the cutter farther to reveal some but not all of the crab salad. Holding the cutter aloft, use a slotted spoon to press 1/3 cup of the Gazpacho Salsa evenly into the cutter on top of the crab. Gently lift the cutter up and away from the plate to reveal the crab tower. Repeat the procedure five more times with the remaining ingredients.

Miso SalmonThis recipe was on the cover of Food and Wine magazine a few months ago .. really easy to make.  If you have a smoker in your backyard, this recipe can be adapted – just soak a cedar plank in water, place the salmon filets on the plan, and smoke until done.

coalsSmoky Salmon with Miso-Dressed Vegetables

1/4 cup white miso (I used yellow since they sell it at Trader Joe’s)
1/4 cup chicken stock
3 tablespoons mirin
apple wood chips2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
3/4 teaspoon finely grated peeled ginger
1/4 teaspoon finely grated garlic
2 teaspoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons canola oil
Four 6-ounce skinless center-cut salmon fillets, about 1 inch thick
Kosher salt
Piment d’Espelette
1/4 cup small hardwood chips, such as hickory or applewood
1/4 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded and caps thinly sliced
1/2 small onion, thinly sliced
1/2 small fennel bulb, halved, cored and thinly sliced
4 medium carrots, thinly sliced on the diagonal
4 baby turnips or large radishes, thinly sliced
2 cups lightly packed baby spinach

miso sauceIn a saucepan, cook the miso, chicken stock, mirin, vinegar, ginger and garlic over moderate heat, whisking until hot, 3 minutes. Whisk in the soy sauce and move off the heat.In a large cast-iron skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. Season the salmon with salt and piment d’Espelette; add to the skillet and cook over high heat, turning once, until lightly browned, 2 minutes total. Transfer to a plate.

miso sauceWorking in a well-ventilated kitchen, wipe out the skillet and add the hardwood chips. Cook the chips over high heat until they start to smoke, 5 minutes. Place a wire rack over the skillet and set the salmon on it. Tent the salmon with a large sheet of heavy-duty foil and smoke for 5 minutes, until the salmon is medium within. Transfer the salmon to a plate. Alternatively, place the salmon on a cedar plank in your smoker and smoke until done (white bubbles will appear).smoked salmon

Meanwhile, in another large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Add the shiitake and onion andshiitake mushrooms cook over moderately high heat, tossing, until browned in spots and just starting to soften, 4 minutes. Add the fennel and carrots and cook, tossing, until crisp-tender, 2 minutes. Add the turnips and spinach and cook, tossing, until the spinach is just wilted, 1 minute. veggiesSeason with salt and sprinkle lightly with piment d’Espelette; add 1 tablespoon of the miso dressing and toss well. Transfer to plates. Flake the salmon, scatter it over the salad and serve, passing the remaining dressing at the table.

stir fryNotes Piment d’Espelette, a mildly spicy red pepper, is available at specialty food shops and lepicerie.com.

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