I will confess that I can get oversaturated with sea foam, spherification and other culinary trickery that often comes out of French kitchens. Sometimes I crave the simplicity some French chefs utilize by letting the best ingredients shine with little manipulation. When I’m in my own kitchen, I will most often reach for French recipes that feature the latest seasonal ingredient, prepared with minimal fuss. CO2 is not something I like to put on my grocery list.
Chef Pascal Barbot of the Michelin-starred l’Astrance is one of Paris’s gastronomical darlings. He may incorporate a foam or two, but he also cooks high-quality, well-prepared fare that stands on its own merit. One of Barbot’s signature dishes is a somewhat simple crab and avocado “ravioli,” but this ravioli is sans pasta.
Some describe it more as a mille-feuille, but when I attempted a re-creation, it resembled more of an avocado-crab sandwich. The key is in the slicing of the avocado, which Barbot does with a very sharp mandoline. He leaves the skin on and the pit intact, and cuts straight through the avocado to get the thinnest of slices to cradle the crab mixture. If you don’t have a mandoline, you can attempt this with a good knife and a steady hand.
I swapped his lime juice for Champagne vinegar to brighten the dish even further. This makes for a lovely summer starter or side, paired with a fresh glass of rosé.
½ pound of lump crabmeat, free of shells
1 tablespoon Champagne vinegar
2 tablespoons of almond oil
dash of hot sauce
salt and pepper
2 large, ripe but firm avocados
2 chives, cut in small pieces for garnish
dash of piment d’Espelette
1. Place the crabmeat in a bowl and season with vinegar, oil, hot sauce and salt and pepper to taste.
2. Keeping the avocado skin and pit intact, cut in thin slices using a mandoline.
3. Remove the skin and pit from the slices.
4. Place the largest slices of avocado on each plate, 2 per plate. Add a scoop of the crab mixture to the center of each avocado, and then top with a smaller piece of avocado.
5. Garnish with chives and piment d’Espelette.
Editor’s note: If you are a foodie heading to Paris, why not download one of our three gourmet walking trips or our package of foodie walks for the iPhone?