Ravioli of lobster, langoustine and salmon with a lemongrass and chervil veloute
I have been itching to do this dish since I got the cookbook all those months ago. Why? Well, it is largely regarded as being one of Gordon’s signature dishes and has pretty much been on his menu at Royal Hospital Road ever since he started there. It has evolved since its first incarnation I’m told, but the essence of the dish has remained the same. I have also eaten this exact dish at his restaurant and remember it very fondly!
I have also held off from doing this dish, as well as others involving lobster, as I was waiting for the right moment to go down to Billingsgate Market in London and procure some fresh live lobster beauties. They say that months ending in the letter R are the best months for lobster, so given it is DecembeR I figured now would be a good time to do the dish.
I left the house early one morning (4am to be exact) and arrived at Billingsgate at 5am. It was pumping already and had only been open for a couple of minutes. There were loads of restaurateurs clearly buying supplies for the day, and the lobsters were going fast. One buyer bought what looked like 10 crates of lobsters. Each crate probably had about 20 lobster in them, so that worked out to a rough total bill of £3,500 … gulp! A ‘starred’ restaurant buyer methinks. Anyway, anxious that I wouldn’t get any lobster at this rate I dived in and started the haggling. The prices ranged from £20/Kg to £14/Kg. Knowing I only needed two for this dish, as well as for another dish (More on that later) I bought my lobsters from Joe, the fishmonger who looked a bit like a monk fish himself (Honestly… he was one of the ugliest guys I have ever seen) and then took my time to walk around the market to buy all the other components I needed for this as well as many other dishes coming up.I love this market. It is exactly what markets should be… bustling, loud and full of quality food. It is truly inspirational and I don’t even like fish that much! Says a lot.
Anyway, I made my way back home and after sorting out my son getting him ready for school I set out on prepping the dish. Wanna see my lobsters?
I started to have second thoughts. They were crawling all over the place, and their feelers were going crazy, checking out their new surroundings. I suddenly realised I didn’t really know how to best dispatch them. I chucked them back into the ice box, booted up the PC and watched a few Youtube examples. You have to love Youtube! Armed with new found knowledge, I made my way back to the kitchen, sharpened the knife and set to work. It helped that I associated each lobster with the most annoying tv chefs on the planet… Anthony Worral Thompson, and Ainsley Harriet.
That made it a lot easier.
A swift knife action later, and a chop chop here and there, I had prepared the lobsters which were now ready for the initial blanch to make it easier to get the meat out of their shells (Marco Pierre White has an excellent video on Youtube showing you this if you need an example). Annoyingly, after watching the video I suddenly realised exactly where Gordon got the inspiration for this dish from. This is pretty much Marco’s ravioli, but the condiments to the ravioli appear to be different.
Anyway, as you can see from the above, the meat was extracted successfully. But what a bitch it was to do this. Marco makes this look easy, but let me tell you it isn’t. The meat from the claws is especially difficult and very messy. My kitchen was covered in lobster goo by the end of it! But I was left with two perfect tails and loads of shells with which I was going to make the shellfish stock.
Next it was time to prepare the rest of the filling. I started with the salmon mousse which pretty much involved getting a salmon fillet, deboning it accordingly, adding it to a food processor and blitzing, together with some cream.
Next, I finely chopped the rest of the salmon and the lobster tails and langoustines and left this to chill for a bit.
Once chilled, I added just enough of the salmon mousse to bind it all together and put it back into the fridge to chill again.
Once chilled I then then rolled the mixture into 80g portions, as per the instructions, but I have to say these looked rather big to me. These will definitely be substantial in size that’s for sure. I really can’t remember the one I had at his restaurant being this huge, but then again it was a long time ago.
These were then set to chill overnight. There was a lot of chilling for this dish! Next was the shellfish stock. I won’t go into much detail here as this will be the subject of the next post, but suffice to say it is as easy as other stocks providing you have the shells to hand. Just fry some base vegetables, the shells etc, then add water and simmer for a few hours. Done!
Next up was making the pasta. Now I have done this before here and as such I will not re post how this is done, but it is incredibly easy. I then let this sit for about 30 min before going further with the ravioli. Whilst this was resting I then made a start on the veloute. Now this is quite a crucial part of the dish in my opinion as it is required to add much needed moisture. If I recall correctly from when I first tasted this dish, the ravioli was relatively moisture free, albeit containing soft, succulent lobster etc… it needed a sauce, and I am sure this will be no different.
I started off by chopping up all the ingredients and adding them to a sauce pan with the vermouth. This was then heavily reduced before adding some more shellfish stock. This was reduced again, after which cream was added, and reduced yet again to a coating consistency. I then sieved this and then added the chervil and set aside for later.
I must just point out at this stage that this was smelling divine! Lemongrass is such a wonderful thing. Next up was the tomato chutney. This was dead easy. I skinned and chopped up tomato flesh, added this to a pan with olive oil and seasoning, and reduced.
It was approaching the time to complete the dish. I added the shellfish stock to a pan and reduced this to about a quarter of its original volume. This always fascinates me as this technique produces a wonderfully complex sauce at the end, every time, provided you are working from a good stock to start off with.
The result was a orangy-red reduction which was incredibly rich and sticky. Simply sublime.
I set this aside and started to fill the ravioli pasta circles I made earlier. This pretty much was a case of putting the blob of filling in the centre of the circle, dabbing the outside with egg wash, and then placing another pasta circle on top and then sealing the ravioli making sure there are no air pockets. It sounds simple, but for some reason I found it really hard. Must be the clumsy fingers. Eventually I got there with all the ravioli and they were ready for cooking.
I already had a large pot with boiling salted water at the ready, and I added the pasta into this to blanch for a few minutes. Whilst this was going on, I heated up the stock reduction, as well as the veloute and the tomato chutney, and made the basil crisps. Oh, and wilted some spinach too. Once the pasta had cooked I set them aside on a warm plate with some kitchen towel to get rid of excess moisture and then set about plating.
I love this part. I started by creating a spiral of stock on a plate, followed by a little blob of spinach in the centre. On top of this went the ravioli and then on top of this went a quinelle of tomato chutney followed by a basil crisp. I served the lemongrass and chervil veloute separately.
It was seriously good. I must admit that despite my best efforts, the pasta was still a bit on the thick side, but at least it was melt-in-your-mouth-soft. The flavours were astounding. The filling was a bit drier than I remembered it being at the restaurant, so perhaps I slightly over cooked it or put in a tad too much mousse, but when eaten together with the reduced stock and the veloute it was a thing of beauty. People, this equates to porn for your tastebuds!!!
I’d go so far as to say that it tasted exactly how I remembered it before and I am really chuffed with the result as a whole. The veloute, as expected, was necessary. It was needed to add the required moisture to the dish, but the stock… OH THE STOCK… blew my mind. It was incredibly rich, and cut straight through but at the same time complimented the flavours in the ravioli perfectly. All the components worked really well together and it is safe to say that this will be a contender for those occasions when a truly special meal needs to be made.
Ravioli of lobster, langoustine and salmon with a lemongrass and chervil veloute… Done!
Next up: Shellfish stock
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