The Japanese have long known of the natural gelling properties of certain sea vegetables and have been making marvelous aspics and gelatins for centuries. Here a fruit that’s relatively new to Japan, the navel orange, makes a lovely self-contained presentation. The final cut wedges of gelatin visually defy the laws of gravity!
Tear the dry gelatin sticks into several pieces and soak in a bowl of cold water to cover for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, cut the oranges in half through the stems. Carefully scoop out the insides. (You can start with a grapefruit knife or spoon, but the job is best done with fingers, peeling and tugging gently.) Do your scooping over a bowl to catch any juice. You should have completely smooth, white-lined cups of orange peel when you’ve finished.
Wrap the orange pulp in cheesecloth or muslin and squeeze to extract the juice. Add enough additional orange juice to make a total of
Squeeze the softened gelatin as you remove it from the water. The gelatin will now be very spongy and will shred easily. Shred the softened gelatin into an enamel-lined or glass saucepan with
Arrange the orange shells on a large tray or fit them in a roasting pan so they don’t rock back and forth. Fill the shells nearly to the top with the orange juice mixture. Lance any large bubbles with a toothpick; gently remove any foam from the surface with a bit of paper toweling. Let the gelatin cool at room temperature until it begins to set (about 30 minutes). Refrigerate, covered, for at least 2 hours and up to 24.
Before serving, cut each orange shell in half. Trim the shells so that the surface of the gelatin is flush with the edges of the orange skin. Serve two or three wedges per person. To eat, peel back the skin.
© 1985 Elizabeth Andoh. All rights reserved.