For this round of the Salvador Dali food blog series, we chose his “Bush of crayfish in Viking herbs.” It may look complex at first sight, but really the hardest part was being patient for two hours while our expert stylist, Karas Cahill, pinned crayfish to a foam cone and made it look pretty. Check out the below photos that detail the process!
From Karas Cahill: I’m a Photo Stylist who enjoys making crustacean creations. Styling makes me as happy as a clam, I mussel my way through it. I collaborate broadly and unshellfishly, with a porpoise.
The recipe calls for unknown quantities of white wine, vermouth, cognac, and fish bouillon (fumet). We did roughly a ratio of 4 cups water to 1 cup alcohol to 1 tablespoon bouillon, plus fresh dill, sugar, salt, and black peppercorns.
The stock simmered away for a while to reduce and mingle all the flavors.
The recipe calls for you to poach the crawfish in the stock, but that’s not really an option when the only ones you can find are pre-cooked. After a momentary panic attack related to this, Julia remembered her best pal is a chef trained in the French tradition, and put in a call. They decided that the best course of action would be to reduce the liquid significantly, pour the hot liquid over the crawfish, then ice the crawfish so they could absorb some of the flavor without (hopefully) overcooking too much.
The crawfish in the poaching liquid.
Julia iced the crawfish to keep them from overcooking. Then she let them sit overnight in the stock (in the fridge of course) to hopefully sop up a bit more flavor (spoiler alert: this only worked marginally well).
After our crawfish have chilled overnight, the next thing to do is read the recipe!
Arranging our crawfish. Some of these guys were a bit more intact than others, so we sorted through and selected the best ones.
A close up of our crawfish selection. These poor guys didn’t make the cut to be featured on the top of the tower (but were useful nonetheless!). You’re all cute to us.
Julia starts to work on cutting lemons for the bottom of our crawfish tower.
Julia begins to assemble the tower.
And while Julia cuts and assembles, Karas gets to working on cutting up toothpicks so we can stick the crawfish into the foam.
Karas adding the crawfish to the tower.
Sorry, little guys.
Sometimes this was a two-person job. Julia had to hold up the claws while Karas pinned the crawfish to the top of the tower.
In order to keep the claws up permanently, we had to tie the top with clear string. You can see it in this photo if you look closely.
All told, this took about two hours. So many crawfish…
Karas cutting the parts of the toothpicks that are sticking out of the crawfish so that our tower looks seamless.
We took some liberties and added a few extra claws to our tower.
Now it’s time to put on some finishing touches: curled lemon.
Ever wondered how to curl lemon? First curl them by hand and stick a toothpick through them…
Then stick them in a bowl of ice water until you’re ready to use them.
Now it’s time to dismantle all our hard work and feed on our crustacean friends.