Hubert Keller’s Crab & Avocado Sphere with Watermelon Gazpacho

© 2012

Being an equal opportunity recipe thief, we had this dish for dinner tonight. This really is a fabulous dish. Although it is relatively straight forward, it is also rather time consuming for 8 spheres. You can do everything but the spheres ahead of time.

Tonight we decided to try something rather soothing, crisp and refreshing given it is beginning to heat up and watermelons are finding themselves at the local markets. We had seen Hubert Keller make this dish on the PBS series “Secrets of a Chef.” As with most professionals, he makes this dish look amazingly simple and delicious. Delicious it is and it’s not that difficult. Unfortunately, it’s more work than it’s worth. The flavor combinations are impeccable but there is simply an easier method of serving it to your guests on a hot summer day than the sphere presentation. Hubert Keller’s presentation is something to do if you want to impress your guests with your style. Our method is if you want to enjoy your friends and wow them with the flavor of your dish. Both methods will be set out in this post and you make the choice as to which you want to serve your guests. Also, we made a few variations, i.e. red pepper flakes, due to our own personal tastes. Regardless of the method of serving, you and your guests will be knocked over by the flavors in this dish. It pairs beautifully with a fresh fig, goat cheese and prosciutto sandwich for a fabulous light, cool, delicious lunch.


  • 3 cups watermelon, cubed
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons white Balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup lump crab meat
  • 1 tablespoon English cucumber, finely diced
  • 1 teaspoon Italian flat parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon red onion, finely diced
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Pinch black pepper
  • 1 avocado
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice


To prepare the gazpacho, combine the watermelon, salt, pepper, and vinegar in a blender, and blend until smooth. Remove and chill 1 hour, or until ready to serve. Remember, this is a cold soup.

In a small bowl, gently break apart the crab meat with your fingers so that it is shredded. Add the cucumber, parsley, bell pepper, onion, 3 tablespoons lemon juice, salt and finely ground black pepper to the crab, and mix until combined.

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Service, Hubert Keller’s beautiful presentation way. To prepare the avocado spheres, dampen your work surface with a wet rag, and lay down a piece of plastic wrap.  Drizzle a teaspoon of olive oil and a teaspoon of lemon juice over the plastic. Cut the avocado in half and remove the pit.  Gently, with your hands or a small knife, peel the skin off of the avocado. Slice very thin slices of avocado, and lay them down on the plastic. Using about 8 slices per sphere, overlap them so that the area is 2 slices wide by 4 slices long.

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Place a small spoonful of the crab salad in the center of the avocado slices.

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Lift the four corners of the plastic wrap together, and twist so that the avocado forms a ball in your hand.

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Continue to twist the excess plastic wrap very tightly, until you hear a pop, and the plastic wrap literally snaps, leaving just the avocado sphere in your hand.

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To serve, spoon the watermelon gazpacho into shallow soup bowl.

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Gently place the avocado sphere on top, being sure that you have peeled off all plastic wrap from the sphere.

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Serve and enjoy.

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Method 2, more functional and easier.

Ladle Watermelon Gazpacho into shallow soup bowl. Dice avocado into small dice and sprinkle in the middle of the bowl.

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Spoon crab salad into middle of soup on top of avocado.

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Serve and enjoy.

© 2012

16 thoughts on “Hubert Keller’s Crab & Avocado Sphere with Watermelon Gazpacho”

  1. I love Hubert Keller he is an amazing chef! The sphere is a ball of goodness swimming on a refreshing soup 🙂

    1. Thanks. It’s relatively simple to do, just time consuming. If you do it often enough you would get pretty quick at it but…it’ easier and tastes the same if you just put it in the bowl as a soup. Great flavors.

  2. I have never watched Hubert Keller, but he sounds more like an artist than cook! These would be fantastic for guests. Do you know if it can be prepped the night before and tightly wrapped until they’re ready to ‘pop’?

    1. Hubert Keller is one of the top chefs in the US and has won many accolades including the prestigious James Beard Award. He is from Alsace France and is French trained. You need to check your local PBS station and watch his show. He does some really neat stuff. To answer your question, everything can be pre-made except the spheres. You can try making a few the night before ensuring you use lemon juice and olive oil on the plastic wrap which would help prevent oxidizing (browning) of the avocado. The problem is that these little buggers have to be twisted very tightly to pop the wrap. I had everything prepped ahead of time but the avocado slices. Slicing the avocado into very thin slices, placing the crab salad in the middle, twisting to form the balls and plating took me close to 50 minutes. Now this is the first time I did this so it always takes a little longer but I can’t see getting this down under 20 – 25 minutes at best for 8 spheres. They are beautiful though.

  3. Thank you for posting this recipe – i had seen the show and wanted to try it. I finally got around to doing so this past week. There are a couple of keys I found critical to execution, all surrounding the avocado. The first is that the slices must be about 1/16th of an inch thick. Any thicker and I had problems forming the balls. The second is that the avocado has to be large to very large in order to get the proper layering effect. I had a couple that were narrow circumference from the pit to the skin.
    While I did enjoy the dish (the gazpacho compliments the avocado crab ball amazingly well), I am tempted to create a ground beef taco encased avocado ball with some sort of sour cream sauce as a replacement to the gazpacho.

    Thanks again for posting.

    1. Hi Adam. Thanks for dropping by and commenting. I agree with you on the avocado. The thickness of the slice makes a big difference. We started with slices 1/8th inch thick and very quickly found it was too thick. Your taco stuffed avocado ball sounds interesting.

  4. You can make these ahead of time! I put a little oil and lemon juice on the work surface, then I roll them up, twist but not pop until ready to serve. They will stay in the fridge for 2 or 3 hours. When you are ready to serve just pop them! I also think a taco stuffing might be better with a gazpacho with heat.

  5. 10/28/2012

    Hubert Keller’. he is best of the best,
    They cut back on his show? I wish they put his show back every day.

  6. How many spheres and how much gazpacho does this make? Making this tomorrow and I would hate to have too little….also, what has anyone paired with these? Would like something to go with these to make a dinner for two!!

    1. The recipe easily prepares 4 servings with 3 balls per serving. Just don’t overstuff the balls. Also, as someone else pointed out, the avocado slices need to be sliced very thin. Anything 1/8 inch or more is too large which makes the balls difficult to form. Inasmuch as this is an appetizer, you can follow it with whatever you want. A steak would be a nice follow up, as would pork roast or chicken. I think we served it with

  7. Dear Mr keller

    Very beautiful
    I do this when I want to please my eye and feel good tasting wonderful flavors.
    I have cut the Avocado in many ways to acquire many cleaner looks.
    My intention is to have the Avocado appear as fish scales or
    just a perfect Domino affect.
    A mustard colored plate makes for a great colors pop.

    I serve this with a pastry sheet wrapped Salmon (almost rare) perfect Hollandaise and
    desert, an Angel food cake hollowed out and filled with Strawberry Moose.
    The top of the Angle Food Cake is placed back from which it came,
    covered with stiff peak Heavy Whipping Cream infused with Vanilla.
    I dress the cake with the the Whipping Cream and cover it with thin
    slices of beautiful fresh Strawberrys’.
    I refrigerate the cake over night and take out and cut just before serving.

    I am inspired by your creativity Mr. Keller.
    Your work makes my mind work.

    My therapy.

    With respect
    Lowell Garner

      1. Thank you sir,
        I regularly seek inspiration from proven chefs and your site is always a pleaser.
        My greatest joy is to cook and serve it to people.
        I would love to include you in my efforts to wake the youth to the good times had through cooking and sharing knowledge of the culinary world.
        George Price , previous owner of the NAGS HEAD, NC, FLYING FISH CAFE’
        and I are in the process of writing a cookbook and I will send you a copy when we arrive.
        Thanks for writing me.

        With respect
        Lowell Garner

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