2 kg (4 1/2 lb) live crayfish
1 large bunch of dill including crowns (flower heads) (strongly preferred) – If you can’t find dill crowns, use large sprigs of dill instead
1 onion, finely chopped
330 ml (12 fl oz) dark beer, porter or stout
2 star anise
3 liters (5 pints) water
100 g (7 tbsp) salt
2 tsp sugar
For the Västerbottensost Cheese Pie:
125 g butter
300 ml wheat flour
1 tbsp water
150 g grated Västerbottensost cheese (TFD note – try Parmesan if you can’t find this rare cheese)
200 ml whipped cream
1 pinch black pepper
For the aïoli:
1 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons crème fraîche
2 tablespoons finely-grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, microplaned or crushed in a press
2 tsp. minced tarragon
2 tsp. minced parsley
2 tsp. minced chervil
1. Divide the crayfish between four large plastic freezer bags, putting about 0.5k (1 lb) in each bag. Seal and pop the bags in the freezer for 2 hours to put the crayfish to sleep.
2. Set aside some of the best looking dill crowns to use as a garnish. Put the rest in a large bucket, large enough to take all the crayfish, and add the chopped onion, beer and star anise.
3. Put the water, salt and sugar in a large pan and bring to the boil.
4. Remove a bag of crayfish (0.5 kg/1 lb) from the freezer and immediately drop the crayfish into the boiling water. Cover the pan, return to the boil and cook for about 8 minutes, until the crayfish turn a bright orange/red color. Remove the crayfish from the water with a slotted spoon and place in the bucket with the dill crowns and beer.
5. Repeat step 4 with the remaining crayfish until they are all cooked.
6. When you have finished cooking the crayfish, carefully pour the hot cooking liquid into the bucket and allow to cool.
7. When cold, transfer the crayfish, dill crowns and all the marinating liquid to containers to fit in your fridge or somewhere cold. Leave the crayfish in the fridge overnight.
8. When you are ready to serve the crayfish, remove them from the marinade, drain and stack them on serving plates. Garnish with the reserved dill crowns.
9. Combine all aïoli ingredients and serve with crayfish and accompaniments.
Cheese Pie Method:
Preheat the oven to 225°C. Mix the butter and flour in a food processor to a crumbly texture. Add the water and mix into a smooth dough. Press the pie dough into a pie dish (24 cm in diameter). Prick the bottom of the shell and place in the oven for about 10 minutes.
Whisk the eggs and cream, add the cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the cheese filling into the pie shell and bake for about 20 minutes until the pie has set. Allow to cool.