This masterful salade composée is a fusion of cuisines and techniques. Chui Lee Luk has a Malaysian background and trained in classical French cooking, including spending time with Dany Chouet who also contributes to this book. Delicate balls of eggplant custard and balls of crabmeat – a play on the traditional boudin blanc (white sausage) – are plated up with grilled slices of asparagus, julienned black radish, sprigs of salad burnet (a herb that tastes a little like cucumber), and avocado dressing. At the base of the salad is a crisp wafer of choux pastry topped with shredded nori, black sesame seeds and chicken floss. (Chicken floss is available from Asian grocers.)

Serves
4

Preparation

1hr
10min

Cooking

1hr

Skill level

Mid
By
Average: 5 (5 votes)
Yum

Ingredients

Eggplant custard

  • oil
  • 1 eggplant
  • 1 egg
  • 1½ tbsp champagne or chicken stock
  • sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
  • splash of mirin (optional)

Crab boudin

  • 350 g raw crabmeat
  • 1 tbsp cream
  • 1 tbsp fish stock
  • 1 egg white
  • ½ tsp Noilly Prat (dry vermouth), optional
  • sea salt and freshly ground white pepper

Wafers

  • choux pastry
  • 2½ tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • ½ sheet nori, cut into short, fine shreds
  • 1 tsp black sesame seeds, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp chicken floss

Avocado dressing

  • ½ avocado
  • 100 ml chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp Chinese rice wine
  • sea salt and freshly ground white pepper

Salad

  • asparagus, trimmed, peeled and finely sliced lengthwise
  • black radish, skin roughly scraped, julienned
  • sprigs of salad burnet (or coriander, chervil or favourite green herb)
  • spring onion sprouts

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 200°C. To make the eggplant custard, heat a splash of oil in an ovenproof frying pan and fry the whole eggplant until browned all over. Transfer to the oven and cook until soft.

Scoop the flesh from the skin of the hot eggplant into a sieve and gently press on it with a spoon to drain off any liquid. Puree the eggplant flesh, then pass the puree through the sieve. Measure out 90 g of puree (the rest can be used for another purpose) and leave to cool.

Beat the egg and pass it through a sieve to remove any foam or albumen. Mix with the eggplant puree, adding the champagne or chicken stock. Season with salt and white pepper. Add mirin for a hint of sweetness if desired.

Place scant tablespoons of the eggplant custard on small pieces of plastic wrap. Bring the sides of the plastic up around each portion of custard, shaping into little balls, and either tie the plastic in a knot or secure with string.

To make the crab boudin, put the crabmeat, cream and stock in a food processor and process until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and gradually stir in the egg white. Add the Noilly Prat, if using, and season with salt and white pepper. Place scant tablespoons of the mixture on small pieces of plastic wrap and wrap as per the eggplant custard.

Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil, then reduce the temperature to just below simmering point. Drop the eggplant balls into the water and poach for about 5 minutes. Remove from the water, then add the crab balls to poach for 5–10 minutes. Remove from the water and set aside to cool.

To make the wafers, reheat the oven to 200°C. Add dollops of choux pastry dough on a tray lined with baking paper and spread them thin and wide into rough wafers. Bake for 6 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 180°C and cook for another 6 minutes. Reduce the temperature again to 150°C and cook for 10 minutes more, or until the wafers are crisp and golden.

While the wafers are in the oven, combine the light soy, lemon juice and sugar in a small saucepan and heat until the sugar has dissolved. Brush the mixture over the cooked wafers, then sprinkle on the nori, black sesame seeds and chicken floss. Return the wafers to the oven for a couple of minutes to dry out the dressing. Leave to cool.

To make the avocado dressing, puree the avocado, chicken stock and rice wine. Season to taste with salt and white pepper. (This dressing should be used within a couple of hours before the avocado begins to brown.)

Snip open the balls of eggplant custard and crab boudin and remove the plastic wrap. Lightly chargrill the slices of asparagus.

To serve, dollop a little avocado dressing onto each plate. Sit a wafer on top, anchoring it to the dressing. Add a few pieces of asparagus, julienned radish and salad burnet over and around the wafer. Dot the salad with some crab and eggplant balls, then spoon over a little more avocado dressing. Garnish with spring onion sprouts.