CRAYFISH TAILS IN HOMEMADE BRIOCHE
BUNS, WITH CRISPY COS LETTUCE AND
A LEMON AND CHIVE MAYO.
This post is in collaboration with
If summer were a sandwich. During these warmer months, my husband goes diving regularly, and we are lucky enough to be living in Wellington where there are many abundant coastlines to choose from. Crayfish and kina are usually what he always brings home (the kina for my Mum, it's her absolute fav!) and then there are often fish and paua among the catch too. These crayfish rolls are a good way of serving a small amount of crayfish to a lot of people, so it's perfect for a group situation. 3 tails will make 9 generously - but you could also use two tails and make the portions a little smaller.
TIME: 1-hour cooking/prep time + 2 hours for proving the dough
For the brioche
¾ cup (160ml) milk
3 tablespoons (40g) castor sugar
1 ½ teaspoon (7g) active dry yeast
6 free-range egg yolks, beaten
2 + 2/3 cup (370g) high-grade white flour + extra for kneading
1 teaspoon salt
150g butter (at room temperature) cut into cubes
1 beaten egg for brushing on at the end
For the filling
3 crayfish tails (legs on the side!)
2 baby cos lettuces
1 cup Best Foods mayonnaise
A small bunch chives, finely chopped
For the brioche, heat the milk and sugar in a small pot until it is lukewarm (37°C) – I do this by touch and it takes around 40 seconds at high heat. Once warm, add the yeast and let it sit for 10 minutes or until nice and frothy. Then add the beaten egg yolks and mix well. In a stand mixer, with a dough hook attached (or you can do this step by hand) mix the flour, sugar, and salt together. Make a well in the centre and pour in the yeasty egg mixture. Mix for around 3 minutes until you have a sticky dough that begins to look smooth. Now you want to add the butter, bit by bit until it is all incorporated. If it hasn’t fully mixed in completely, you can do this by hand in the next step.
Turn the dough out on a lightly floured bench and knead for 10 mins until the dough is smooth and elastic. You have to add extra flour as you go (all flours are different, and with bread making, the humidity etc on the day will change the amount of flour you need) to stop the dough from sticking to your hands and to help bring the dough together. Only add the minimal amount of flour needed so that it is not sticky – the dough is meant to be light and pillowy. After 10 min of kneading, put the dough into a greased bowl, cover with a clean tea towel or plastic wrap and set in a warm spot to prove until doubled in size, about 1 ½ - 2hours.
While the dough is proving, cook the crayfish. To do this bring a large pot of water to the boil. Once boiling, drop the crayfish in and time 9 minutes from the moment they hit the water. You might need to do this in batches as you want the crayfish to be fully submerged (but be sure to bring the water back up to the boil again before dropping another cray in if doing in batches). Aaron does this step for me, and he says he never salts the water either. If the crayfish is slightly larger, you might need to increase this time by a minute, but we mostly cook ours for 9 minutes. A good tip too, if you are wanting to freeze crayfish, Aaron has tried many different techniques (raw and cooked) and the best way is to cook as mentioned above, and then drain and hang the crawfish over the pot so the tails are facing down and allow to cool. This drains all of the liquid away from the flesh and shell. Once cooled they can be frozen, and this draining technique keeps the flesh a perfect texture and not mushy when thawed. For this recipe - once the crayfish is cooked, set aside to cool completely. This step can be done the day before, and the cooked crayfish kept in the fridge. Once the crayfish is cool enough to handle, remove the tails and then the flesh. You can either cut it down the centre with a sharp knife or on the softer side of the shell, carefully cut down each side of the tail with sharp scissors and break the shell away. This technique will give you rounds of crayfish. Cut the tails up into portions and set aside. You can also break the legs off to serve on the side.
At this stage, you can also wash and prepare the lettuce, and also make the mayo so it’s all ready to go once the buns have baked. Wash the lettuce and snap off into individual leaves. Drain well or use a salad spinner to dry and then set aside. For the mayo, combine the Best Foods in a bowl with a good squeeze of lemon, the chopped chives and season with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust if needed with more lemon or seasoning. Set aside. NOTE: you can also add mustard powder or your favourite hot sauce to the mayo too for a little extra kick.
Once the dough has fully proved, line a baking tray with baking paper and set aside, and knock the air out of the dough by giving it a quick knead. I weigh my dough with scales and then divide that by 9 portions (or 12 if you want a slightly smaller / slider shaped bun), but if you don't have scales, you can eye-ball this. I just weigh them so that they are the exact weight to be not only symmetrical but also to cook evenly amongst them all. Put the 9 or 12 portions on the lined tray with a 1 cm space between them, cover and set aside. Let them prove for a further 20mins. While they are proving, preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). After 20mins of proving, brush with the beaten egg and bake in the centre of the oven for 13-16 minutes or until golden.
Once the buns are cool enough to handle, cut in half, spread some mayo on the bottom followed by a few leaves of cos lettuce the crayfish and a little extra mayo if wanted. Serve immediately with the crayfish legs on the side, and enjoy!