I followed the instructions exactly. Pineapple skins were boiled and then strained. That stock was added to a jar with hot Thai and habanero chiles, garlic, oregano, and peppercorns. It was topped with a barrier of olive oil and was left to ferment for one week at room temperature with a cheesecloth covering. Bubbles should have formed and then subsided after a week. No bubbles formed in my pique. It sat, did nothing, smelled like garlic, and the chiles started looking less than appetizing. I decided to play it safe and dump the pique. So, I still don’t really know anything more about this condiment. I had hoped to use it as suggested in the crab salad with chilled gazpacho sauce, but rather than risk a nice bout of food poisoning, I made a substitution instead. Maybe I’ll find a source to purchase pique one of these days, or I might just have to hop on a plane to learn more about it.
In the book, this dish is a lovely, light-colored, delicate-looking thing. What I created is far more garish with a vivid, red sauce, and the darkest green avocados I’ve seen for a while. The topping on the crab salad was supposed to have been finely diced, peeled, green tomatoes. Unfortunately, I arrived a little late at the farmers’ market last weekend, and not only did I miss any chance at finding green tomatoes I almost didn’t get tomatoes at all. One farmer was kind enough to offer me his over-ripe ones that no one else wanted. They were red, juicy, and perfect for pureeing into gazpacho, so I took them. For the topping, I finely diced some seeded, yellow cherry tomatoes and combined them with finely diced, seeded cucumber. It might not have been exactly the flavor that was intended, but the color contrast and the taste of cucumber worked nicely with the dish. Those vegetables were added to finely chopped, preserved lemon, lemon oil, a spicy vinaigrette which I used instead of pique, and salt and pepper. For the sauce, chopped, very ripe in my case, tomatoes were pulsed in the blender. Ripert suggested pulsing so as not to incorporate too much air. The puree was passed through a strainer, and it was seasoned with sherry vinegar and salt and pepper, and that was the sauce.
For the crab salad, mayonnaise was whisked with some vinaigrette, chopped chives were added, and lump crabmeat was gently stirred into the mix. To match the presentation in the book, a ring mold was needed, but I used a biscuit cutter. The crab salad was molded on the plate inside the biscuit cutter with the yellow tomato-cucumber mixture on top, gazpacho sauce was poured all around, the biscuit cutter mold was removed, and sliced avocado was added. Despite how fussy it sounds and how pretty it looked in the book, it was actually very easy to prepare. Because each part was chilled before being plated, it made a refreshing first course for a summer night’s meal.