Velours de Tomate “Grappa” and Zucchini Spaghetti with Shellfish
This is a delicious mixture of shellfish, flavored with herbs and served with a fresh tomato sauce that carries a kick. By using a Japanese-style mandoline and cutting the zucchini lengthwise into very narrow strips, Chef Morisset creates zucchini “spaghetti” to mix with the seafood. With the exception of the sauce, all the items are sauteed at the last minute and combined. You can vary the seafood depending upon what is fresh locally.
- Tomato Sauce
- Tomatoes - 6 to 8, stems removed, quartered
- Unflavored gelatin - 1/2 packet
- Cold Water - 1/4 cup
- Tabasco or other hot pepper sauce - 8 drops
- Celery salt - 1 teaspoon
- Sea Salt - 1/2 teaspoon
- Sherry Vinegar - 1 teaspoon
- Zucchini - 4
- Shrimp or Prawns - 8, large
- Langoustines - 8, , or rock lobster tails
- Tiny Squid - 16
- Olive Oil - 1-1/4 cups
- Clams - 24, small
- Thyme Sprigs - 1
- Garlic Clove - 1, crushed
- Salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
- Juice of 2 lemons
- Basil leaves - 4, cut in chiffonade (narrow strips)
- Chives - 12
- Parsley Sprigs - 4
- Basil Sprigs - 4
To make the sauce: Puree the tomatoes in a food processor. Pour through a strainer into a bowl. The juice will be light in color; it will darken as it sits. Dissolve the gelatin in the cold water. Warm the gelatin over low heat until it melts. Add a large spoonful of tomato juice to the gelatin, then stir the gelatin into the bowl of tomato juice. Whisk in the Tabasco, celery salt, and sea salt. Add the vinegar and whisk gently to blend. Let the sauce come to room temperature to prevent separating, then place the bowl in a larger bowl filled with ice to chill the sauce.
To prepare the zucchini and seafood: Using a Japanese-style mandoline, cut the zucchini lengthwise into long, spaghetti-like strips. Peel the shrimp and butterfly them, removing the back strip; leave the tails attached. Remove the tails from the langoustines and take the meat out of the shell. Separate the tentacles and bodies of the squid. Pull off the skin; pull out the quill in the body.
Heat 1 cup of the olive oil in a large saute pan or skillet over medium-high heat and add the clams. Cook 1 minute, shaking the pan slightly as they cook. Add the thyme sprig and garlic clove and set aside off the heat for 1 minute. Discard any which do not open. Put the zucchini strips in a large saute pan or skillet. Pour the clam cooking juice over the zucchini and toss. Season with salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Put over medium heat and cook until the zucchini begins to soften, about 1 minute, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon to keep the zucchini from sticking. Add the basil chiffonade and toss. Set aside off the heat.
Using the remaining olive oil as needed, saute the shrimp and langoustine tails over medium-high heat until opaque throughout, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. Put the squid tentacles and cleaned bodies in a dry non-stick saute pan or skillet and place over medium-high heat. Keep shaking the pan so that the pieces move about as they cook. They will very quickly firm up and become opaque; as soon as they do, remove from heat. This takes place within 1 minute.
To serve: Take the clams out of their shells, reserving 4 in the shell. Slice the shrimp diagonally into large pieces, reserving 4 whole. Slice the langoustine tails diagonally into bite-sized pieces. Set aside 4 squid pieces. Toss the remaining squid pieces, zucchini, clams, sliced shrimp, and langoustine pieces together.
Place a 5-inch ring mold in the center of each serving plate. Pack with the zucchini-seafood mixture. Remove the rings. Place a whole shrimp, clam, and piece of squid on top of the zucchini mixture. Stand 3 chives in each, and garnish each with a parsley sprig and a basil sprig. Ring the zucchini mixture with tomato sauce.