Langoustines with Tomato Jelly
This recipe was inspired by the tantalising sashimi tomato jelly and langoustine dish created by Yoshinori Ishii that I enjoyed at Umu in London. If you have never eaten tomato jelly, it is a most extraordinary experience. The jelly is golden and crystal clear, bearing no physical resemblance to the tomato, but it is also very fragrant, reminiscent of the scent left on your hands after picking tomatoes. The taste gives you an umami rush that runs riot not only on the taste buds but also in the mind. Use fresh-from-the-sea langoustine, or other large local shrimp. If you only have previously frozen crustaceans, it is advisable to poach and cool them before using.
750g ripe, juicy tomatoes (but not beef tomatoes)
3-4 sheets of gelatine
1 tsp salt crystals
6 ultra-fresh raw langoustines
1 tbsp lemon juice
freshly ground white pepper
a few edible flowers, in season
Blitz the tomatoes in a food processor, then transfer to a jelly bag hung over a bowl. Leave until the tomatoes stop dripping. This will take a few hours; do not be tempted to squeeze the bag as that will make the juices cloudy. You should end up with a bowl of fragrant, pale golden liquid.
When the dripping ceases, measure the quantity of juice; you will need 1 sheet of gelatine for every 100ml of juice. Half-fill a bowl with cold water, add the gelatine sheets and leave to soak for 5 minutes until quite soft. Scoop out the softened gelatine with your hands and squeeze out the excess water.
Transfer the gelatine to a small saucepan and gently melt on a very low heat until liquid. Do not on any account boil it, as it will lose its setting powers. Add 100ml of the juice and stir, then take off the heat and add the remaining juice and the salt. Transfer to a shallow container, cover and put in the fridge to set. This will take a few hours.
When ready to serve, carefully remove the shells from the langoustines and remove the black tract. Put the langoustines in a small bowl, add the lemon juice and white pepper and gently turn.
Chop the jelly lightly and divide between shallow glass dishes. Top each with 1 langoustine and dress with edible flowers. Serve at once.
Extracted from Raw and Rare by Lindy Wildsmith (Jacqui Small, approx €24).