How to Make Mirliton Crab Bisque

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Mirlitons-the wrinkly green vegetable, found in family gardens and farmers markets all over South Louisiana, commonly finds there way to the dinner table and restaurant menus, particularity in the fall.  My favorite is this Sweet Daddy D’s Mirliton and Crab Bisque.  The mirliton’s mild flavor is a perfect companion for the succulent and rich crab meat and unique spice blend of nutmeg, allspice and cardamom. Great as an appetizer or the main course, served with crisp french bread and a green salad. Let’s take a look at this no-angst recipe.

Mirliton Crab Bisque with crab meat in a bowl with three mirlitons
Mirliton Crab Bisque

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Here’s What You Need

Mirlitons-your grocer may label them Chayotes or even Alligator or Vegetable Pears, but ask anybody in Louisiana and they’ll tell you…it’s a mirliton. We need about 4 cups of the pulp, so 6 mirlitons should do the trick. The other vegetables will be yellow onions, celery, green onions and carrots, seasoned with some creole seasoning while they cook. We will make a blonde roux from butter and all-purpose flour, then use seafood stock and dry white wine to make the broth and some heavy whipping cream to make it creamy. The spice blend for this bisque really sets it off. Fresh grated nutmeg, ground allspice, cardamom and white pepper bring out the Caribbean influences of South Louisiana and some Kosher salt melds everything together. Of course there is no Mirliton and Crab Bisque without the crab meat. Jumbo lump crab meat is the cream of the crop, but you may need to take out a bank loan to afford it. Jumbo lump is best, regular lump is terrific, and backfin will do just fine, if that’s all you can find.  

Five fresh mirlitons
The humble mirliton

Here’s What You Do

First…you have a beer. There is a little preparation required for this, but not really a lot of ingredients or anything difficult. Uncap a beer, read the recipe through and do your mise en place….make sure you have all the ingredients, get them prepped and set in their own little bowls and you’re ready to go. Two things to keep in mind…prep the mirlitons early so they have time to cool so you can scrape out the pulp and blend up a little more of the spices than you think you’ll need. The mirlitons are very mild and slightly sweet in flavor and you’ll want to make sure to have enough spices to pick them up. So mix up the full amount or maybe a little extra, then start out by adding about half to the bisque, give it the taste test, then add more if it needs it.

Mirliton Crab Bisque ingredients
Here’s what you need
Prep the mirlitons

Slice the mirlitons in half lengthwise. They are usually kind of squatty, so slice them through the widest area. Bring a large pot of water to a heavy boil, add some salt and then the mirlitons. After 45 minutes, they should be soft when poked with a toothpick. Take them out and set them aside to cool. Once cooled, use a spoon to remove the seed, then scoop out the pulp, leaving the outer shell-you can toss the shell. Get as much as you can out, then chop it up and set aside until needed. Before you chop up the mirlitons, reserve about ¼ cup to slice into little pieces to add to the bisque at the end .

mirliton meat
Mirliton pulp
Saute the vegetables and make the roux

Melt the butter in a heavy bottom dutch oven over medium high heat until bubbly, then add the yellow onions and celery. Saute until the onions are starting to clear, this should be about about 5 minutes. Add the green onions and saute for another couple of minutes. Add the flour and mix in thoroughly, stirring constantly to make a blond roux. Don’t let it brown-this should only take about 3 or 4 minutes-you don’t want it to brown but you do want the flour taste to cook out. Next add the creole seasoning and stir it into the roux. Finally add the mirliton and carrots and mix everything together very well.

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Simmer, then add the liquids

Lower the heat and allow everything to simmer while the mirliton releases some of its liquid.  Make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the dutch oven, so stir often and mash some of the mirliton with your spoon while you do. After about 10 minutes, increase the heat and mix in the stock and the wine. Bring this to a boil, then reduce the heat and maintain a heavy simmer for about 20 minutes while the flavors come together and it thickens. Stir it often.

Blend it up and spice it up

After about 20 minutes, the carrots should be very soft. Using an immersion blender right in the dutch oven, blend the bisque until it is very smooth, making sure to get all the carrots and mirliton pieces. Add in the heavy cream and stir well to incorporate everything. Keeping it at a slight simmer, add in about half of the spice blend and about a teaspoon of salt. We’ll check it after you add the crab meat to see if it needs more spice. Stir it well. Now gently, add the crab meat, being careful not to break it up (I usually do this by hand). You want those nice lumps. Add in the little mirliton slices that you had set aside and carefully give it a good stir. Let it simmer about 5 more minutes, then turn the heat off and taste it to test the spices. Add more spices and salt if you need to.

That’s it, simple as that, all there is to it.

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Hints and Tips

  • The mirliton is not native to Louisiana, but when introduced to Louisiana in the 18th century, these natives of South America, Central America and Mexico adapted well to the alluvial soils of the Louisiana delta. You may know it as a chayote or alligator pear or even a vegetable pear, but this versatile and unique squash is a staple of Louisiana, served many ways-from pickled to casseroles and stuffed with everything imaginable.
  • Looking to increase the variety of vegetables in your diet? The mirliton is a good option. They are mild and slightly sweet in flavor, enhanced by the flavors of the ingredients with which they are mixed. They are low in calories and sodium, a good source of dietary fiber and cholesterol free. Check out more about the  nutritional characteristics of the mirliton HERE.  
  • Make sure you don’t rush the softening operation. If the mirlitons are not softened enough they will be very difficult to scoop out. Use a toothpick to test them-when it slides in with little or no resistance, its ready.
  • Mirlitons have a high water content. Once you have scooped out the pulp, put it in a colander placed over a bowl. Let it drain while you are doing other things, then rough chop the mirliton and return it to the colander until you’re ready to add it to the bisque. It will seem like it’s still making water, but you’ll cook most of it out.
  • This bisque is great left over the next day. Make sure to refrigerate any leftovers in a sealed, air proof container. It will keep for a couple of days in the fridge. Warm it up slowly on the stove-you may need to add just a bit of water if its gotten too thick.
  • Remember that most commercial creole seasoning and commercial stocks have a high salt content, so make sure that you taste the bisque before you add any more salt.
  • Have some extra stock in reserve in case the bisque needs to be thinned out. Vegetable or chicken stock are an excellent substitute for seafood stock.
  • This recipe makes about 8 full size servings (bowls) or 12 appetizer size servings (cups).

Whether an appetizer or an entree, try it with some crusty french bread and a Sensation Salad. If you like this Mirliton Crab Bisque, you’ll love these other recipes from Sweet Daddy D:

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Yeah You Right!

Mirliton Crab Bisque with crab meat in a bowl with three mirlitons
Sweet Daddy D's Mirliton Crab Bisque
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Print Recipe
Mirliton Crab Bisque-the mirliton's mild flavor is a perfect vehicle for the succulent and rich crab meat and unique spice blend of nutmeg, allspice and cardamon in a creamy, rich bisque. Perfect for an appetizer or the main course, served with crisp french bread and a green salad.
Servings Prep Time
8 Servings 30 Minutes
Cook Time Calories per Serving
1 Hour 542
Servings Prep Time
8 Servings 30 Minutes
Cook Time Calories per Serving
1 Hour 542
Mirliton Crab Bisque with crab meat in a bowl with three mirlitons
Sweet Daddy D's Mirliton Crab Bisque
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Print Recipe
Mirliton Crab Bisque-the mirliton's mild flavor is a perfect vehicle for the succulent and rich crab meat and unique spice blend of nutmeg, allspice and cardamon in a creamy, rich bisque. Perfect for an appetizer or the main course, served with crisp french bread and a green salad.
Servings Prep Time
8 Servings 30 Minutes
Cook Time Calories per Serving
1 Hour 542
Servings Prep Time
8 Servings 30 Minutes
Cook Time Calories per Serving
1 Hour 542
This is What You Need
Herb and Spice Blend
This is What You Do
  1. Slice the mirlitons in half, lengthwise and poach in salted water for about 45 minutes until very tender when probed.
  2. Remove from the water and allow the mirlitons to cool, then remove and discard the seed and scoop out the meat with a spoon.
  3. Chop the mirliton; set aside until needed, but reserve about ¼ cup of pieces to add to the bisque at the end.
  4. Melt butter in a heavy bottom dutch oven over medium high heat until bubbly
  5. Add yellow onions and celery and saute until the onions are starting to clear-about 5 minutes.
  6. Add green onions and saute for another 2 minutes.
  7. Add the flour and mix in thoroughly, stirring constantly to make a blond roux-about 3 minutes; don't let the roux brown,
  8. Mix in the creole seasoning.
  9. Add the carrots, stir to coat with the roux, then add in the mirliton and stir everything together very well.
  10. Lower heat and allow everything to simmer for about 10 minutes while the mirliton releases some of its liquid. Stir often and mash some the mirliton with your spoon while you stir.
  11. Increase the heat and add the stock and the wine.
  12. Mix well and bring it to a boil. Then reduce the heat and maintain a heavy simmer for about 20 minutes while it thicken. Stir often.
  13. Test to make sure the carrots are soft, then using an immersion blender, smooth out the bisque, making sure to get all the carrots and mirliton pieces.
  14. Add in the heavy whipping cream and stir together until it is all incorporated. Mix in about half of the spice blend and 1 teaspoon of salt.
  15. Add in the crab meat making sure not to break it up. Add the reserved mirliton pieces and carefully blend everything together well.
  16. Now that the crab meat is in, taste it again to check the seasonings. Add more of the reserved spice blend and salt if needed.
  17. Serve this in a cup as an appetizer, or in bowl as an entree. Some nice saltines or crispy french bread go well with the bisque as does a nice green salad.
Recipe Notes

Mirlitons are also called chayote or alligator pears. They will vary in size but  you want about four cups of prepared mirliton meat for this recipe.

Have some extra stock in reserve in case the bisque needs to be thinned out. Vegetable or chicken stock are an excellent substitute for seafood stock.

This recipe makes about 8 full size servings (bowls) or 12 appetizer size servings (cups)

Nutrition Facts
Sweet Daddy D's Mirliton Crab Bisque
Amount Per Serving
Calories 542 Calories from Fat 423
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 47g 72%
Saturated Fat 29g 145%
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 6g
Cholesterol 188mg 63%
Sodium 628mg 26%
Potassium 374mg 11%
Total Carbohydrates 16g 5%
Dietary Fiber 3g 12%
Sugars 4g
Protein 14g 28%
Vitamin A 117%
Vitamin C 21%
Calcium 9%
Iron 9%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

 

 

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