It's kind of an all-Heston-all-the-time dinner. With bonus points for lots of straight forward make-ahead ease. If you were after the lowest effort Heston dinner party this list would have to be up there!
We had: (Heston dishes marked with a *)
- Prawn cocktails*, with from scratch Mayonnaise* and Soy-marinated roe*
- Braised pork belly with cracking*, pommes puree* (mk2), braised lettuce* and steamed carrots.
- Coffee creme brulee*
Today, we're talking entrée...
Prawn cocktails, garnished with soy-marinated roe.Heston's love of prawn cocktails is well known. He talks about them all the time. From Heston Blumenthal at Home, "Confession time: prawn cocktails are my secret vice. When I get home late after working in the Fat Duck there's nothing I like better than to raid the fridge for prawn cocktail."
Conveniently, this recipe is also available reprinted here.
So.. there are a few components to this dish - most noteworthy is the mayonnaise, which Heston recommends making from scratch. The soy marinated roe is a garnish, and also a complete doddle, and so is done at the end.
MayonnaiseTrue story, somewhat embarrassing story: This was only my second time making mayonnaise. The first time I made it, (many years ago) it looked fine, but tasted terrible. It scarred me, meaning I haven't braved making it again. Time to put on my big girl panties and get on with getting over it, huh? (Side note: You don't use strongly flavoured olive oil to make mayonnaise. Don't try it, as waste of time and good olive oil. Learn from my misfortune, padawan).
Mayonnaise is an emulsion. which means a thick liquid-meets-solid thing.
You get some egg yolks.
Prawn cocktailsReally, this is kind of so straight forward as to be a non event. However, while I sat and shelled prawns I got to relive lots of lovely memories of my grandmother who, on special occasions would make prawn cocktails as an entrée when I was a kid. I love them, and her, so this was a nice bit of memory...
Soy marinated roeAh, to be suckered by a pretty picture - the downfall of many a Heston Blumenthal recipe-reader.
I wanted these...because they looked so pretty in the photo! I mean.. look at them there on top...
I did nearly back out though when I went to buy the salmon roe.. and the smallest jar - 50g - was $28. Gulp. But ... but... I caved. They cost more than the prawns. Sigh. The things I do for this hobby...
Three ingredients. Really. Take some mirin, warm it up, and burn off the alcohol. Realise you're pretty sure this one isn't alcoholic and feel a bit silly when it doesn't work. Oh well.
Mix your prawns into the sauce. Scoop your lettuce into fancy bowls. Add some chopped avocado, the prawns in their sauce, and carefully add those beautiful little orange gems of caviar.
Things I learned from this recipe:
- Not everything from the 70s was awful.
- $30 is too much for a garnish.
- Even Heston has things he won't mess with. Traditional can sometime be the way to go.
- Yep, I still love prawn cocktails.
Verdict:Okay, yes, I know prawn cocktails are 70s and kitschy and looked down on. But you know what? They taste so good, I can live with all that. Making the mayonnaise did bring the quality of this dish up a lot. I loved them when I was 10, and I still do. Yum.
The soy marinated roe? It was nice and salty and pretty. But.. I doubt I'd bother with this again. It was dead easy to make though, so if you wanted something fancy to impress, or to go on those blinis Heston also mentions, by all means have at it!
These were very well received! Despite there being a lot of "wow, I haven't had one of these in years..." there was a lot of very happy silence while everyone chowed down on them happily. Several guests even used their bread to make sure no sauce was left behind. (I great compliment in my book. If you like a sauce I made enough to use your bread to sop it all up, then I know its a job well done.)
Next time: Main course: and that 18 hour braised pork belly..