1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1/4 teaspoon Espellette pepper or another sweet, mild chili powder
1/2 teaspoon fennel pollen or ground fennel seed
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, peeled and medium diced
2 large cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, deseeded and medium diced
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon Pernod
2 1/2 tablespoons of lemon juice
1/4 cup fresh picked dill sprigs tightly packed and coarsely chopped plus few more sprigs for garnish
1/4 cup tightly packed Italian parsley leaves, washed, dried and coarsely chopped
crab meat from one section of Alaskan Snow Crab, approximately 6 ounces of picked crab meat
1 cup Béchamel (recipe follows)
Makes 1 cup
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup whole milk
1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
heaping 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
heaping 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
Recipe by Chef Vitaly Paley
Mix the breadcrumbs with Parmigiano Reggiano, Espelette pepper and half of the fennel pollen then set aside.
Preheat the oven to 425 F.
Set a heavy bottom sauté pan over a medium flame and heat the olive oil for about 1 minute.
Add onions, garlic, red pepper and cook, stirring gently, until soft with no coloration, about 10 minutes.
Season with salt and black pepper to taste.
Mix in cayenne and remaining fennel pollen. To prevent from igniting, turn the heat off and stir in Pernod and lemon juice. Turn the heat back on to medium to reduce all the liquid, about 1 more minute.
Transfer all the contents of the sauté pan into a mixing bowl and let cool slightly, about 5 minutes.
Stir in chopped dill, parsley and picked crab.
Gently fold in béchamel then transfer it all into a 7-inch round or oval casserole dish that holds approximately 3 cups by volume.
Top evenly with bread crumb mixture and bake until the crab dip starts to bubble around the perimeter of the dish and crumbs are golden brown, about 20 minutes.
Garnish with remaining dill sprigs and serve immediately.
For individual portions, split the crab mixture evenly between 4, four-ounce ceramic ramekins.
Set a small pot over medium heat and add butter. Once butter has melted, whisk in flour, reduce heat to low and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent browning. Slowly pour in milk whisking vigorously, increase heat to medium and continue whisking until the mixture thickens, about 3 minutes. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg.
Continue cooking on low heat, whisking frequently until the sauce is thick and smooth, and has no raw flour flavor, about 10 minutes. Transfer béchamel to a small bowl and press a piece of plastic wrap or parchment paper against the surface of the sauce to prevent a skin from forming. Set aside until ready to use.
You can also cover tightly and refrigerate for up to three days.
WHY DID I CHOOSE ALASKA SNOW CRAB FOR THIS RECIPE?
The tender sweet crab is perfect for this dish as it keeps together during cooking then gently, as if on cue, melts in your mouth. While seasoned breadcrumbs and fresh green herbs provide complexity and crunch, rich béchamel adds luxurious and velvety texture. Serve this dip with your favorite crackers, toasted baguette, chips or all of the above.