Monday, March 28, 2011

Shrimp en Pistachio Szechuan Pepper Honey Aspic with Chanterelle Sultan Caramelized Vinaegrette and Ginger Pernod Glace

     As you have seen in my past food blog entries, I tend to create inspired recipes after dining in great Las Vegas restaurants!  This is the first item that I have cooked in Chicago after six days of gourmet dining and writing Las Vegas restaurant reviews last week.
      I was inspired by the cuisine that I had a chance to sample last week.  I have not posted many creative modern French fine dining recipes in my blog so far, so this aspic is one of the first.  This recipe was a real challenge for me to cook, because of the lack of ingredients that I had on hand in my kitchen.  I usually have an empty refrigerator after returning from Las Vegas and I tend to be lazy about going shopping after traveling.
     There was only one fresh shallot and a few cloves of garlic in my refrigerator today!  That was the only fresh food that I had to work with.  I was in far too good of a mood today, to go shopping at the disappointing grocery stores in my suburb of Chicago.  I created this light entree with a few dried and preserved ingredients that I had on hand.  I also had six large shrimp in my freezer.
     Someone at my job site brought in a bag of roasted pistachios to snack on.  The pistachios started my thinking process for this recipe.  I snagged a small handful of pistachios from the employee to create this recipe with.  I planned the execution of this recipe while driving home from work while snacking on the extra few pistachios!
      After getting home, I took a quick inventory of the ingredients in my kitchen that would be nice with roasted pistachios.  After selecting the flavors, style, presentation and the choice of meat, this recipe's pieces fell together into the right places!
     This is a simple modern French aspic recipe that is not difficult to make.  The idea was inspired by a few gelee and aspic items that I saw on fine dining menus in Las Vegas.  Gelee presentations are something that I have not posted in this blog so far.  This recipe was going to be a gelee, then I decided to go with it as an aspic.  The flavor of the Szechuan pepper, roasted pistachio and shrimp en aspic is very nice with the two very different sauces!
     Many time I create the flavor and the foundation of a new recipe, with the intention of leaving the final garnishing ideas up to the reader, expeditor or sous chef.  I do suggest micro sprouts and petite herbs for garnishing the aspic, but the choice of tasteful presentation is up to you!
     Shrimp en Pistachio Szechuan Pepper Honey Aspic:
     Heat 1 cup of very light shrimp broth over medium high heat in a small sauce pot.
     Add 4 ground roasted pistachios.
     Add 3 peeled and deveined large shrimp.
     Add 1 pinch of Szechuan pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt.
     Add 1 teaspoon of honey.
     Allow the shrimp to poach, till they become cooked al dente.
     Remove the shrimp from the broth and set them aside.
     Allow the broth in the sauce pot to cool to room temperature.
     Pour the broth in a measuring cup.
     Add enough water to equal 1 cup.
     Pour the broth in a sauce pot.
     Rain 5 to 6  grams of plain powdered gelatin on the cool broth and allow the gelatin to bloom.
     Note:  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.
     Stir the cold gelatin mixture, till it becomes combined with the broth.
     Heat the gelatin broth in the sauce pot over low heat.
     Stir gently without creating bubbles, till the bloomed gelatin is liquified with the broth.
     Remove the pot from the heat.
     Stack the 3 reserved poached shrimp in a 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.
     Place the ring mold and shrimp into a small custard cup on a plate.
     Pour a small amount of the aspic over the shrimp, so the base of the mold will be sealed after a short refrigeration time.
     Keep the rest of the aspic warm on a stove top keep it loose.
     Refrigerate the custard cup, till the aspic at the base of the ring mold becomes firm and so it seals the ring mold.
     Pour most of the remaining aspic over the shrimp into the ring mold.
     Refrigerate the shrimp and aspic, till the aspic becomes set and firm.
     Any extra aspic can be used for a second portion or another recipe.
     Chanterelle Sultan Caramelized Vinaegrette:
     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.
     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 small splash of virgin olive oil.
     Add 5 drops of lemon juice.
     Simmer the vinaegrette for 5 minutes.
     Pour the vinaegrette through a fine mesh strainer into a small sauce pot.
     Return the strained vinaegrette in the sauce pot to medium low heat.
     Add 1 reconstituted small dried chanterelle mushroom that is very thin bias sliced into miniature strips.
     Add 6 dark raisons that were soaked and reconstituted.  (sultans)
     Slowly simmer the vinaegrette, till the sultans and chanterelle become fully reconstituted and tender.
     Simmer and reduce the vinaegrette to a thin syrup consistency.
     Allow the sugar to caramelize to a brown color.
     Add 1 ounce of water.
     Add 1 teaspoon of blueberry pomegranate vinegar.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of virgin olive oil.
     Reduce the vinagrette to a very thin glace sauce consistency.
     The olive oil will separate from the caramelized liquid in the vinaegrette to create an interesting sauce presentation when served!
     Set the vinaegrette aside in a small ramekin.
     Ginger Pernod Glace:
     This sauce is very simple to make.  Ginger is very nice with the flavor of Pernod or Absinthe!
     Heat a small sauce pot over low heat.
     Add 1/2 cup of French Pernod Liquor.
     Add 1/4 cup of water.
     Add 10 thin slices (1 tablespoon) of sushi quality pickled ginger.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of sugar.
     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 clean small sauce pot.
     Place the sauce pot over medium low heat.
     Simmer and reduce the sauce, till it becomes a thin syrup consistency.
     Set the ginger Pernod glace aside in a small ramekin.
     Shrimp en Pistachio Szechuan Pepper Honey Aspic with Chanterelle Sultan Caramelized Vinaegrette and Ginger Pernod Glace:
     Carefully warm the bottom of the chilled aspic custard cup in a little bit of water in a saute pan over medium heat.
     As soon as the aspic loosens slightly, remove the cup from the hot water.
     Carefully remove the ring mold that contains the shrimp and aspic from the custard cup.
     Carefully remove any excess aspic flash from the base of the molded aspic.
     Heat a dry saute pan over medium heat.
     Place the steel ring mold on its side in the pan.
     Slowly roll the ring mold back and forth, till the aspic is slightly loosened.
     Remove the ring mold from the pan.
     Apply pressure with your fingers on the bottom of the aspic, while holding the steel ring mold firmly, to push the aspic up and out of the ring mold.
     Set the shrimp aspic on the center of a serving plate.
     Gently twist the tooth pick before removing it, so it does not pull the aspic and damage it.
     Spoon a few streaks of the reduced Chanterelle Sultan Caramelized Vinaegrette on the plate.
     Spoon a few dots of the reduced ginger Pernod glace 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 Las Vegas restaurants.
     This is a Las Vegas inspired entree that I just created with a minimum of fresh ingredients!  This aspic platter turned out to be very nice!
     Szechuan pepper and honey is a classic flavor combination.  Szechuan pepper is from prickly ash trees and it is not a member of the peppercorn family.  Szechuan pepper is commonly used in Nepalese and Chinese cooking.  Szechuan pepper will cause taste sensory perception distortion.  The Szechuan pepper effect was calculated to benefit this recipe.  I do think of every detail!  Ha Ha Ha!  
     There is not enough honey used in this recipe to sweeten the aspic!  The honey is added to gently brighten the flavor of the other ingredients in the aspic and to add to the Szechuan pepper effect.
     The chanterelle adds a savory flavor to the caramelized vinaegrette.  Blueberry and Pomegranate Infused Red Wine Vinegar is available at many grocery stores.  The thyme, sultans, caramelized sugar and the chanterelle flavors help to tame the tart flavor of the caramelized vinegrette.  Yum!  ...  Shawna    

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