Here’s a bite-sized dish to kick-off the holiday season in style! This very Russian combination seamlessly mixes poor and rich man’s ingredients, with potato and brains on one hand, and king crab and sturgeon caviar on the other. It’s not the first time I’ve paired crab and caviar (see here), and I’ve also posted recipes for pork brains and veal brains before. Combining the brains with crab, however, proves to be particularly successful, resulting in a creamy mixture that’s both delicious and approachable — the brains are nearly unrecognizable.
This makes for a great amuse-bouche with a drink before dinner. It’s just salty enough to make you thirsty, and rich enough to help you absorb the alcohol. And so you won’t be mistaken, this is to be consumed with moderation: after excluding water content, almost 50% of both pork brains and caviar is fat. And I won’t even talk about the potato chips and butter…
While one could use brains from other animals, I’ve found pork brains marginally easier to procure. They’re also larger than lamb brains, and aren’t haunted by the spectre of mad cow disease. I’ve been able to find them regularly at Harlem Shambles. As for the caviar, I really recommend using real sturgeon caviar. This recipe uses only 4 grams per serving so you won’t break the bank, and you’re not gonna make it every day anyway. Paddlefish roe, which I like in other situations, tends to overpower the crab and brain mixture.
Brined pork brain
Yields about 12 servings
500 g cold water
7.5 g salt
115 g pork brains (about 4 lobes)
- Whiz the salt and cold water in a blender on low speed to dissolve to make a brine. Transfer to a plastic container.
- Rinse the pork brains under cold water, then transfer to the brine, refrigerate, and soak for about 2 hours.
Brain and crab mixture
Yields about 12 servings
brined pork brains
black pepper, ground
20 g butter
115 g king crab meat (without shells or cartilage)
3.5 g lemon juice
3.5 g chopped chives
- Take the brains out of the brine, and pat dry with paper towels. Season with salt and a hint of pepper.
- Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat. Add the brains, and sauté for a few minutes, braking the brains into small pieces with a spatula. Remove from heat.
- Shred the crab meat into the brains, add the lemon juice and chives, and mix well. Reserve at room temperature.
about 120 g peeled Idaho potato
2 kg canola oil (for deep frying)
- Using a mandoline, slice the potato into twelve discs, each 2 mm thick and 6-7 cm in diameter. Soak in a bowl of cold water for about 10 minutes.
- Heat the canola oil to 150 C / 300 F in a deep pan or pot. Pat dry the potato slices with paper towels. Fry in the oil, stirring with a spatula so that the slices do not overlap, until the chips start to crisp, without browning (a bit like when blanching French fries). Let cool on paper towels.
- Bring the oil to 175 C / 350 F, then return the chips to the oil and fry until golden brown and crispy throughout (the center takes the longest to crisp). Drain on paper towels, and reserve.
Yields 12 servings (12 chips)
brain and crab mixture
48 g caviar
12 g celery microgreens
- Top each potato chip with a generous spoonful of brain and crab mixture. Add a small spoonful of caviar.
- Serve immediately on a plate decorated with microgreens.