Ocean Pearl in Broth

Umi no Shinju Wan

This soup features a gingery quenelle-like seafood dumpling. In Japan it is usually served in a covered bowl; when you remove the lid and see the dumpling, it’s as if you have discovered a pearl in an oyster.

Ingredients

Surimi

Seafood Forcemeat

  • 6 ounces bay or sea scallops
  • 4 ounces turbot or fillet of sole
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons cold water
  • 1 teaspoon ginger juice (extracted from grated fresh ginger)
  • scant ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 small egg white

Poaching Liquid

  • 3 cups water
  • 10 square inches dashi kombu (kelp for stock making)
  • 1 teaspoon saké (Japanese rice wine)

Broth

  • 3 cups dashi (basic sea stock)
  • 1 tablespoon usukuchi shōyu (light soy sauce)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon saké (Japanese rice wine)

Thickener

  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon cold water

Garnishes

  • 1 small bunch fresh kaiwaré (radish sprouts) or 8 tufts blanched broccoli rabe
  • 1 large, blemish-free lemon (only the peel will be used)

Method

  1. Make the seafood forcemeat: Rinse the scallops to make sure no grit clings to them. Pat them dry. Cut the turbot or sole into 1-inch pieces. In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, pulse/process the scallops and fish to make a smooth paste.
  2. Combine the cornstarch and water in a small cup, and mix to form a smooth paste. Add the cornstarch mixture to the seafood, and pulse/process to blend. Add the ginger juice, salt, and egg white, and pulse/process until smooth.
  3. Make the poaching liquid: Combine the water, kelp, and rice wine in a saucepan. Bring the water rapidly to a boil over high heat. Remove the kelp.
  4. With hands wet with water, form the seafood paste into four spheres. Poach them, one at a time, at a moderate boil for 3 minutes in the poaching liquid. The dumplings will puff up a bit and rise to the surface when cooked. You can check by inserting a toothpick in the center of the dumpling: The toothpick should come out clean. Remove the dumplings with a slotted spoon and carefully drain off excess liquid. Place one dumpling in each of four bowls.
  5. Rinse out the saucepan, and then add the broth ingredients. Simmer for 2-3 minutes. While the broth is simmering, combine the cornstarch and water to form a smooth paste. Then raise the heat to high, pour in the thickener (the cornstarch mixture), and stir until thickened (about 1 minute).
  6. With a zester or small paring knife, remove four long spiral pieces of lemon peel. Wind the peel around the radish sprouts or broccoli rabe tufts as though they were being tied up with a ribbon or streamers.
  7. Arrange a bunch of tied greens on top of each “ocean pearl” dumpling. Pour the thickened broth carefully over the arrangement, so it is barely suspended in the broth. Serve immediately.

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