Friday, December 14, 2012

Red Snapper Quenelles w/ Fennel-Crawfish Cream Sauce

Alright.  No egg recipe. 

But I've got an oddball for ya. 

I didn't quite think this would all match together, let alone get my husband to see my vision.  The quenelle is first slow poached, then finished off in a fryer to get the beautiful golden brown color.  It's like a fish dumpling, if you will.  I wanted to present snapper in a different way and it happened to work out nicely! 

The cream sauce is definitely out-of-this-world.  I could have drank this alone.  It's THAT good.  Definitely something that you could throw on pasta, chicken, fish, whatever!  Versatility is key here.

Anyway, this was one of those dishes I wasn't too excited about until we sat down to eat it.  I should definitely have more confidence in myself, because Andy even said that this could be one of those dishes that he asks for over and over again.  Score!


Red Snapper Quenelle:

1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup flour
2-3 eggs
12 oz. red snapper (or other lean white fish), roughly chopped
pinch of nutmeg
salt and pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
Swiss cheese, grated (optional)

Fennel-Crawfish Cream Sauce:

10-15 cooked crawfish, tails only
5 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons parsley, chopped
1 small onion, diced
1/2 fennel bulb, sliced thinly
1 celery stalk, diced
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup white wine
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper, to taste

The quenelle starts with a pate a choux base.  If anybody has ever made cream puffs, this is basically the dough that starts them. 

In a medium saucepan, combine the water, salt, and butter.  Bring to a boil and stir in flour.  Make sure all of the flour is incorporated.  Cook mixture until a slight skin forms on the bottom of the pan.  This is called a "panada".  Transfer mixture to a KitchenAid mixer and beat until no steam comes out.  You're trying to cool the mixture down before you add your eggs.  When mixture is cool to the touch (you basically want it to be less than 135 F - the temp that eggs coagulate/cook), you can start adding your eggs, one at a time.  This is the hardest part of this.  You don't want to add your eggs all at once, because the panada may not accept all of them and your panada will break.  Add the eggs one at a time and make sure they are fully incorporated before adding the next.  You may not need the 3rd egg, or all of it, anyway.  So with the 3rd egg, just scramble it in a bowl and add it little by little.  When will you know the panada is complete?  You can do the "beard test".  Take you paddle attachment and dip it into your panada, if it comes out and looks like a beard/goatee hanging from your paddle, your panada is done! This link here explains pate a choux perfectly.  It should be thick and dough-like, but pliable and sticky.  If that makes any sense.

Anyway, in a food processor, combine your red snapper, nutmeg, salt, and pepper.  Slowly add in your cream until mixture is smooth.  Combine the snapper mixture with the pate a choux dough until well mixed.  Transfer mixture to refrigerator and let sit until well-chilled, about 30 minutes.

To make the cream sauce, melt the butter under medium high heat.  Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add onions, celery, and fennel.  Cook until fennel starts to soften.   Stir in crawfish and cook another 1-2 minutes.  Deglaze pan with white wine and cook until almost evaporated.  Add in chicken stock and bring to a boil.  Stir in heavy cream and cook mixture until thickened to desired consistency, about 5-10 minutes.  Stir in parsley and season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Hold warm until ready to use.

When you're ready to make the quenelles, pull out your fish mixture and set a pot of water to a slow simmer.  Also, get your deep fryer at about 375 F, or heat some vegetable/peanut oil to the same temp in a heavy bottomed pan.

Form your quenelles with 2 spoons (HERE is a great video on how to quenelle) and let simmer in the water for about 15 minutes.  Carefully place on a paper towel-lined tray and pat dry.

Drop quenelles in the fryer/oil until they are a golden brown, about 2-3 minutes.

Transfer to a wire rack and season with salt.

Serve quenelles over rice (I didn't really think this was quite necessary, but I was really hungry) and top with fennel-crawfish cream sauce.


I know this was an oddball, but sometimes you have to push the limits.  It's why I'm in culinary school, right?  To try weird and new things!

Happy Friday, guys!  Enjoy your weekend!  


  1. This happens to me all the time; my husband doubts my recipe ideas! For example, last night I made pumpkin biscotti with candied ginger and butterscotch. He said that sounded "weird" and made a face at me. Of course, when they are finished, he kept trying to steal another one off my gift-basket-wrapping table. Just goes to show that we know what we're doing and we need to remember that! :)

  2. quennelles are delicate poached little clouds, why would anyone want to deep fry them? As a kid my Mom made the most perfect mushroom quennelles with a lovely little curry sauce. When I went to culinary school I learned the two spoon method that she had mastered so well.

    1. Of course a poached quenelle is great, but in this application a little fried dumpling adds just the right texture - to each their own, my friend!

  3. I found this recipe while I was doing a search for crawfish on Tastespotting. It sounds phenomenal! Definitely something I've never made before, but I like a challenge.