Crab Cakes + Tabasco ‘Caviar’ + Tarragon Aioli(Serves 4 friends, as an appetizer)For the tabasco ‘caviar’• ½ cup water• ½ cup Tabasco sauce• 1 Tablespoon agar agar• 7 sheets gelatin, bloomed or softened in ice water• 1 pint very cold canola oil (chill in the freezer for 3 hours)For the tarragon aioli• 1 cup mayonnaise• 1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice• 1/8 cup fresh tarragon, minced• Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to tasteFor the crab cakes• 4 Tablespoons mayonnaise• 4 eggs• 2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice• 4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce• Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste• 2 pounds whole fresh crab (whatever’s in season and local, if you can get it), steamed or boiled and cooledFinishing touchesFresh chives, roughly choppedLemon wedges, grilledHow to Do ItChef’s note: Agar is a type of Japanese gelatin. It is available at Asian markets, online at willpowder.net, or from specialty food sources.
1. Make the caviar: Put the water and Tabasco into a pot with the agar agar and bring it to a boil. Take the pot off the heat and add the bloomed gelatin.2. Take an eyedropper and drop the Tabasco mix into the cold oil. When all the Tabasco is in the oil, strain away the remaining oil and you will have Tabasco caviar!3. Make the aioli: In a small bowl, whisk together all the ingredients and refrigerate until ready to serve.4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.5. Make the crab cakes: In a medium bowl, combine the mayonnaise, eggs, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and salt and pepper.6. Open up the crabs, clean them out, and fold the meat gently into the wet mix. (You don’t want to break up the crab too much.) Form the mixture into 4 patties (or use a ring mold if you want to get fancy) and lay them out on an oiled sheet pan.7. Cook them in the oven for about 10 to 12 minutes, until they begin to get a light golden brown.8. To serve: Place a crab cake in the center of each plate and top with the aioli. Add a nice spoonful of caviar, and garnish with fresh chives and grilled lemon wedges.