Pike quenelles with crayfish sauce

Valentine Warner's fluffy orbs of pike float elegantly on an intense shellfish sauce spiked with brandy and chilli powder
By Valentine Warner
Pike quenelles with crayfish sauce
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Prep Time: 40 minutes plus chilling time
  • Effort: easy


For the crayfish sauce

  • 4 crayfish
  • sunflower oil, for frying
  • 1/2 medium fennel, bulb, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 banana shallot, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2-3 sprigs thyme
  • 175 ml white wine
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • splash brandy
  • 1 small cube chilled butter
  • 1 pinch chilli powder

For the quenelles

  • 4 pike fillet, skin removed, chopped
  • 40 g chilled butter
  • 40 g plain flour
  • 100 ml milk
  • 3 tbsp double cream
  • freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
  • eggs, 2 whole and 2 separated
  • splash jersey cream
  • 4 small sprigs chervil


1. For the crayfish sauce: remove the meat from the crayfish tails, reserving the heads and shells, and set aside.

2. Heat some sunflower oil in a large frying pan and fry the crayfish shells and heads until they begin to brown. Add the fennel, garlic, shallot, bay leaf and thyme and cook until the onion has softened. Add 250ml of water, plus the wine and tomato purée and bring to the boil. Boil until the liquid has reduced by half, then remove the pan from the heat.

3. For the quenelles: melt the butter in a saucepan and stir in the flour. Gradually add the milk, whisking until you have a smooth, thick white sauce. Cook for a few minutes then remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the double cream. Season with freshly grated nutmeg, some salt and black pepper and leave to cool.

4. Once the white sauce has cooled a little, whisk in two of the egg yolks.

5. Place the pike fillets in a food processor and blend until smooth. Add the white sauce, then the whole eggs one at a time, and one of the egg whites. Blend the mixture between each addition and continue to do so until it is light and fluffy. Add a splash of jersey cream and a pinch of salt, mix well then refrigerate for 30 minutes.

6. Strain the crayfish sauce through a fine sieve and return it to a clean pan. Add the brandy and bring the mixture to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, add the chilled butter and slowly whisk until the sauce is thick and glossy. Add the chilli powder and the meat from the crayfish tails. Keep over a very low heat.

7. Bring a saucepan of lightly salted water to the boil. Using two wet spoons, shape the pike mixture into quenelles (rugby ball shapes). Gently drop them into the water and poach for approximately 8 minutes. Remove the quenelles with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.

8. Arrange the quenelles in serving bowls and pour over a little of the hot crayfish sauce. Garnish with the chervil and serve.

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