A Modern Asian French Fusion Aspic!After returning home from a vacation there usually is very little fresh food in the refrigerator. When arriving home late after a long flight from a western time zone, it can take hours to wind down. If hungry, late night dining options can be limited or nonexistent. Making something to eat with whatever non-perishable food remains in the home kitchen is the only choice and this can present a real challenge, even for an experienced chef!
Plain gelatin, frozen shrimp, a few cloves of garlic, 1 small shallot, dried chanterelles, black currants, vinegar, pistachios, spices and a couple bottles of aperitif liquors were the items on hand after returning from a 14 day vacation. Few people in their right mind would dream up some kind of a way to combine this list of odd food items and create something appealing. As one can see in the photos, this improbable task can be done!
Today's recipe title reads like a list of ingredients and in this case it is okay. Some maitre d's and captains can dramatically recite a descriptive menu item title in a way that creates consumer interest. When recited with a little bit of flair, the title of today's recipe sounds exotic enough to entice nearly any gourmand!
*This entire recipe yields 1 petite appetizer portion!
Shrimp en Pistachio Szechuan Pepper Honey Aspic:
This recipe yields a little extra aspic that can be saved for snacking. It is better to have a little too much aspic, than not enough.
Step 1: Heat 1 cup of light shrimp broth over medium high heat in a small sauce pot.
Add 4 roasted pistachios that are finely ground.
Add 3 peeled and deveined large shrimp.
Add 1 pinch of ground Szechuan Pepper.
Add 1 pinch of sea salt.
Add 1 teaspoon of honey.
Allow the shrimp to poach, till they are cooked al dente.
Step 2: Take the pot off of the heat.
Remove the shrimp from the broth and set them aside to cool.
Allow the flavored broth in to cool to room temperature.
Step 3: Pour the broth into a measuring cup.
Add enough water to equal 1 cup.
Pour the broth into a sauce pot.
Step 4: Rain 5 to 6 grams of plain powdered gelatin on the cool broth and allow the gelatin to bloom.
*Rain means to lightly sprinkle on the surface, so no clumping occurs. Blooming means to allow the gelatin to reconstitute. A proportion of 4 ounces of gelatin per gallon of liquid will yield a firm edible gelatin. 4 to 5 grams per cup will yield a soft aspic. 6 to 7 grams per cup will yield a firm edible aspic. 5 to 6 grams per cup is a good proportion for the molded aspic application in today's recipe.
Step 5: Heat the gelatin broth in the sauce pot over very low heat.
Stir gently without creating bubbles, till the gelatin is liquifies.
Remove the pot from the heat.
Step 6: Stack the 3 reserved poached shrimp in a fancy ring mold that is slightly larger than the size of the stacked shrimp.
Use a toothpick to pin the shrimp together vertically, so the uniform stack remains in place.
Step 7: Place the ring mold and shrimp in a small custard cup or small shallow bowl.
Pour a small amount of the aspic over the shrimp, so the base of the mold will be sealed after being refrigerated for a short time.
Keep the rest of the aspic warm on a stove top.
Refrigerate the custard cup, till the aspic at the base of the ring mold becomes firm and it seals the bottom end of the ring mold.
Step 8: Stir the remaining aspic in the pot.
Pour enough of the aspic into the sealed ring mold to fill it up.
Refrigerate the shrimp and aspic, till the aspic gels firm.
*Any extra aspic can be used for a second portion or another recipe.
Caramelized Chanterelle Black Currant Vinaigrette:
Step 1: Soak 1 small slice of dried chanterelle mushroom in a little bit of water till it reconstitutes.
Slice the mushroom into miniature strips and set them aside.
Soak 6 black currants in warm water till they are reconstituted.
Step 2: Heat 1/2 cup of water in a small sauce pot over medium low heat.
Add 2 tablespoons of Blueberry Pomegranate flavored red wine vinegar or regular red wine vinegar.
Add 1/2 tablespoon of sugar.
Add 1 pinch of thyme.
Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper.
Add 1 teaspoon of coarsely chopped shallot.
Add 1 chopped garlic clove.
Add 1/4 teaspoon of lemon juice.
Simmer the vinaigrette mixture for 5 minutes.
Step 3: Pour the vinaigrette mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a small sauce pot.
Place the sauce pot over medium low heat.
Add the reserved chanterelle mushroom strips, black currants and both soaking liquids.
Step 4: Simmer and reduce the vinaigrette mixture, till it is a thin syrup consistency.
Allow the sugar to caramelize to a brown color.
Step 5: Add 1 ounce of water.
Add 1 teaspoon of blueberry pomegranate red wine vinegar or regular red wine vinegar.
Add 1 tablespoon of pomace olive oil.
Add 1/2 teaspoon of virgin olive oil.
Simmer and reduce the volume of the vinaigrette by half.
Step 6: Pour the condensed caramelized vinaigrette into a small ramekin and keep it warm on a stove top.
*The olive oil will separate from the caramelized vinaegrette to create an interesting looking sauce presentation when served!
Ginger Pernod Glacé:
Glacé translate to ice or something that is translucent like ice.
This sauce is very simple to make. Ginger tastes nice with the flavor of Pernod or Absinthe!
Step 1: Heat a small sauce pot over low heat.
Add 1/3 cup of French Pernod Liquor.
Add 1/4 cup of water.
Add 10 thin slices (1 tablespoon) of sushi quality pickled ginger.
Add 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar.
Step 2: Allow the Pernod to slowly simmer with the ginger for 5 minutes, so the flavors infuse.
Strain the sauce through a fine mesh strainer into a small sauce pot.
Step 3: Place the sauce pot over medium low heat.
Simmer and reduce the sauce, till it becomes a thin syrup consistency.
Place the Ginger Pernod Glacé in a small ramekin.
Shrimp en Pistachio Szechuan Pepper Honey Aspic with Caramelized Chanterelle Black Currant Vinaigrette and Ginger Pernod Glacé:
Step 1: Carefully trim and remove any excess aspic flash from the steel ring mold.
Step 2: Heat a dry sauté pan over medium low heat.
Place the steel ring mold on its side in the pan, so only the metal makes contact with the pan.
Slowly roll the ring mold back and forth, till the the ring mold warms up and the aspic loosens up.
Remove the ring mold from the pan.
Step 3: Apply pressure with your fingers on the bottom end of the aspic, while holding the steel ring mold firmly, then push the aspic up and out of the ring mold.
Step 4: Set the shrimp aspic on the center of a serving plate.
Gently twist the tooth pick that held the shrimp in place before removing it, so it does not damage the aspic.
Step 5: Decoratively spoon a few streaks of the Caramelized Chanterelle Black Currant Vinaigrette on the plate.
Spoon a few drops of the Ginger Pernod Glacé on the plate.
No garnish is necessary!
*If you happen to have some small micro onion sprouts on hand, then only place about 5 -7 small sprouts on top of the shrimp as a garnish, before saucing the plate. Micro sprouts seem to be the garnish of choice these days in fine restaurants.
For something that I threw together with just a few ingredients that were on hand after returning from a vacation, this aspic appetizer turned out fancy enough to sell at a fine restaurant! This recipe takes a little patience to make, but it is worthwhile.