Savoury Jellies: Crab salad served in a pea shoot and tomato jelly
Jelly making with a savoury twist
Some of you may remember that last year, my husband and I visited London’s famous ‘Gherkin’ building to have dinner at Searcy’s restaurant on the top floor.
The most memorial part of that night out, apart from the architecture, turned out to be the amuse bouche that we were served, and that wasn’t even on the menu!
We were served a deconstructed ‘BLT’ – consisting of tomato jelly topped with a bacon onion foam, a sliver of crispy baked tomato and lettuce dressing. In fact, it was the memory of the tomato jelly that has stayed with me ever since.
I’ve been waiting for the weather to warm up so that I could attempt to recreate the tomato jelly; in fact, I found a recipe on the Daily Telegraph website that I’ve been dying to try for months now.
So here it is, a simple crab salad served on pea shoots in tomato jelly. I changed the Daily Telegraph’s recipe slightly as I wanted a sharper and warmer jelly, so I added an infusion of lemon and chilli to give it sharpness and heat.
I absolutely love this jelly, and I can see myself making this again, and again, and again. My only criticism of my dish today is that I didn’t actually put enough pea shoots into the jelly so the flavour of the pea shoots didn’t come through enough.
I made 4 pots of jelly to go with the crab salad, which left plenty of plain tomato jelly left over. It’s so versatile because we have been using the tomato jelly on other dishes as well – it dissolves back to liquid when heated and we served this over some rice and slow-baked pulled pork we’d made during the week.
This recipe has really sparked my interest in savoury jellies now so don’t be surprised if you’ll see me tinkering with jelly mixtures this summer. I haven’t provided the recipe for the crab salad as it was just some fresh white crab meat, mixed with some freshly chopped spring onions, a de-seeded red chilli, lemon juice and my favourite French mayonnaise.
Making this jelly reminds me of the fun I used to have in science classes so if you like playing around in the kitchen like I do ie tinkering, experimenting etc whatever you want to call this, you’ll probably love trying to make this too. 🙂
Lots of love
1.5 kg tomatoes
300 ml tomato juice
½ freshly squeezed lemon
1 whole red chilli
1-2 large shallots
2 cloves garlic (blanched in boiling water for 2 mins)
1 teaspoon celery salt
Good pinch of black pepper
4-5 springs of fresh basil leaves
Enough gelatine leaves to set approximately 700 ml of tomato liquid
Put all of your ingredients into a food processor and blitz it until as smooth as possible.
If you don’t have a jam stainer or muslin cloth, put a clean tea towel over a bowl and pour your tomato mixture into your clothe. Strain your tomato mixture, which will leave you with at least 700-800 ml of pale pink liquid (I ended up with almost a litre of liquid). Taste your tomato liquid and if you don’t feel it’s concentrated enough (which I didn’t), I set my tomato liquid on a gentle simmer and reduced the tomato ‘stock’ down to about 650 ml.
When you’re ready to make your jelly, place your gelatine leaves in cold water for a few minutes, then squeeze out the water before adding them to your tomato liquid.
If you’re not planning to set anything in the tomato jelly, then add your gelatine leaves, mix well, and then pour your tomato jelly liquid into your desired mould and allow it to set overnight.
I set some fresh pea shoots in the jelly, so to do that I allowed the jelly to cool completely before I reheated one ladle of tomato liquid in order to dissolve the gelatine leaves. I then mixed the hot liquid back into the rest of the tomato liquid, before pouring it over pea shoots – the lukewarm liquid ensured my salad leaves didn’t lose any colour.