I had a dish a few years ago at Pierre Gagnaire’s restaurant in Hong Kong which consisted of a layer of smooth cauliflower mousseline with a jellified beet consommé and thinly sliced marinaded scallop, not only the contrasting colors were visually striking but I still remember vividly the perfect harmony of the dish. It had the texture of panna cotta and so much more. On my recent trip to l’Ambroisie in Paris I was also served a cauliflower mousseline, topped with a thin layer of clear shellfish gelée and a fresh langoustine tartare which was equally memorable – it reminded me how great interposing delicate textures can be. When I came across some pristine looking sea urchin at Mitsuwa last week-end and remembered I had some lobster consommé in the freezer I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to experiment a little.
Joel Robuchon does a Sea urchin in lobster gelée with cauliflower cream at l’Atelier, in this version I put Robuchon’s dish in reverse, the cauliflower cream is at the bottom and the sea urchin on top. I dared to put the ying where the yang was supposed to be. Not everyone keeps lobster consommé in their freezer so this might seem like quite a bit of work to make from scratch but the reward is that you get to experience beautiful sea urchin in all its briny strangeness with a supporting cast that’s equally awesome.
Sea urchin, cauliflower mousseline, lobster gelée & trout roe
- Serves 4 to 6
For the lobster gelee:
- 4 lobsters heads, blanched & chopped
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 2 celery ribs, chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 fennel bulb
- 4 garlic cloves
- 4 sprigs fresh tarragon
- 1/2 tablespoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
- 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
For the cauliflower mousseline:
- 1/2 lb cauliflower florets
- white pepper
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 tablespoons mascarpone
- sea urchin
- trout roe
- olive oil
For the lobster gelée:
- Blanch the lobster heads (or buy them from your fishmonger) chop them and and place them in a large pot, then add wine, carrots, celery, fennel, onion, garlic, tarragon sprigs, salt, fennel seeds, rice wine vinegar and 2 quarts water and bring to a boil. Simmer until liquid is reduced to about 6 cups, about 2 hours.
- Pour stock through a cheesecloth-lined sieve into a bowl. Transfer 2 3/4 cups stock to a bowl and freeze the rest in an airtight container for another use. Sprinkle gelatin evenly over 1/2 cup stock in a small saucepan, then let stand a few minutes to soften. Heat over very low heat, stirring, just until gelatin is dissolved, then stir in remaining 2 1/2 cups stock. Cool to room temperature.
For the cauliflower mousseline:
- Place the cauliflower in a saucepan and pour 1 quart of water and 1 tablespoon salt. Bring to a boil and simmer until the cauliflower is tender, about 20 minutes. Drain.
- Place the florets back into the pan and place in a preheated oven for 5 minutes to evaporate moisture. Transfer them to a food processor, add the butter and puree until smooth. Blend in the mascarpone. Season to taste with salt and pepper. You should obtain a very smooth and creamy cauliflower mousseline. Cool and refrigerate.
- In small bowls or cups, spread some of the cauliflower mousseline to fill the bottom, smooth the top. Place some trout roe over it and pour some of the cold lobster consomme in each bowls, to a 1/4 inch thickness. Carefully place the bowls in the refrigerator until set.
- To serve, place 4 or 5 sea urchins on top of the lobster gelee, place some trout row in the center and drizzle with a few drops of olive oil. Garnish with chervil leaves.