ANGUILLE A LA JAPONAISE
Anago, a sea eel, is similar to unagi, freshwater eel, but it has a more delicate flavor and is a little smaller, shorter, and leaner.
Its bones are so small and fine they do not need to be removed.
We cut the flesh of the eel in a crosshatch pattern to help the bones break down, but even without that, they're scarcely noticeable.
To prepare the eel, we make a sweet-sour marinade with mirin, rice vinegar, and tamari sauce, which are heated together and then cooled; we cook the eel sous vide in the marinade.
The numerous accompaniments include a simple avocado puree that forms a base on each plate, along with red radish, chopped nori, perilla (or shiso, an herb in the mint family), and sea urchin tongues (or roe). Jidori hens are a wild Japanese breed. The yolks of their eggs are deeply colored, almost orange.
They're not imported into the United States, but there's a farm in Modesto, California, that raises a similar breed, and their eggs are what we use. We scramble the eggs until they're dry and beginning to form beads, then chop them fine and add them to the rice.
FOR THE MARINADE: Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and slowly bring to a boil. Strain and let cool. Refrigerate until cold.
MAKES 180 GRAMS
FOR THE EGGS: Put the egg and yolk into a small saucepan and whisk constantly over medium heat for 5 to 6 minutes; the eggs should dry out completely and become granular in texture. Transfer to a cutting board and chop very fine. Set aside. MAKES ABOUT 55 GRAMS
FOR THE AVOCADO COULIS: Combine the water, lemon, and avo- cado in a Vita-Prep. While blending on high speed, drizzle in the oil.
Season to taste with salt. Pass through a small chinois or fine-mesh con- ical strainer and refrigerate until cold. MAKES ABOUT 225 GRAMS
FOR THE EEL (59 C for 20 minutes): Cut the eel crosswise in half. Trim the long sides and tail end. Trim away the small flap and any blood spots. Score the flesh in a shallow crosshatch pattern. Refrigerate the eel until chilled.
Place the eel in a bag, add the marinade, and vacuum-pack on medium.
Cook at 59 C (138.2F) for 20 (check this) minutes. Remove the bag from the water and let sit for about 20 minutes to cool to room temperature.
To complete: Remove the eel from the bag and strain the liquid into a saucepan. Reduce the liquid for about is minutes, to a glaze consistency.
Cut the eel pieces lengthwise in half, then trim into 4 serving pieces about 4 inches long. Use a pair of tweezers to pull away the skin from the fillets. Remove the skin, cut the remaining eel and trimmings into a fine dice, and set aside.
FOR THE GARNISHES: Slice the radishes into very thin rounds. You will need 12 perfect rounds that are equal in size. Place in a bowl of ice water and refrigerate until serving.
Grind the nori to a fine powder in a spice grinder.
FOR THE RICE: About 20 minutes before serving, stir the mirin, champagne vinegar, and grapeseed oil into the hot rice.
AT SERVICE: Heat the diced eel with about 30 grams of the glaze in a saute pan. Meanwhile, place the serving pieces of eel skin side down in the remaining glaze in another pan. Bring to a simmer, basting the fish with the glaze to reheat.
Stir half the rice into the diced eel. Divide the egg between the two rice mixtures. Spread the avocado coulis on the serving plates. Arrange the rice on the plates and sprinkle with the nori. Place the eel and the sea urchin on the rice. Garnish with the radishes and sprouts, and drizzle the plates with some of the glaze, if desired. MAKES 4 SERVINGS
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