Previously, on tastingmenu.wordpress.com –
Recently, my wife started reminiscing about an offering from Iron Chef Morimoto’s NYC restaurant. That item, from the omakase menu was the castella that was served during the nigiri course. As it turns out, it’s also offered on the nigiri portion of the dinner menu at the restaurant. After one of omakase meals, Omae-san graciously sent home with us a small package of the castella for my wife (since she became a big fan of that item); when my mother tried it, the offering made a fan of it as well!
The ingredient list for the castella turned out to be:
1/4 c sake
3/4 c sugar
combine both ingredients in a small heavy sauce pan and heat to dissolve the sugar
1/2 lb peeled deviened shrimp
puree the shrimp in a food processor/blender until completely smooth
Separate 16 eggs into the 16 yolks and 12 egg whites, reserving 4 yolks for some other application
2 T milk
2 T cream
Here, as per Martha Stewart, I read this as 4 T of half-and-half
2 T flour
So basically, I needed to make (1) a sake syrup, then (2) separated eggs, (3) beat the whites to lighten the
mixture, (4) combine the shrimp puree with the egg yolks, half-and-half and (5) carefully incorporate the hot
syrup (in a thin gradual stream). Once that was all done,I would have to ‘dust’ and blend in the flour and
then fold in the whipped whites with a whisk while trying not to deflate the mixture.
The cooking step would be to get the mixture into 9″ x 13″ greased/oiled baking pan and popping into a
preheated 350 F degree oven for about 30 minutes. Doneness testing would be to stick in a metal skewer to
see if it would come out clean.
As far as the skewer test went, it came out clean and the castella was still plenty hot, so I let it sit to cool to room temperature. I unmolded the castella by putting a cutting board on flipping it upside down. It looked ok, but not the nice golden brown I was expecting on the other side; but I figured that was ok, per se.
When the castella seemed to be about room temperature, I cut a slice to look inside and split the cut into
three “sashimi” pieces. It looked ok, but it was pretty clear the whipped egg whites had separated out a little
bit. Still, my wife was excited and wanted to taste test it right away. The flavors were very close to what we remember of the castella at the restaurant. The next time I make this, I’m certain I could make a microbatch half portion. One of the things I noticed from this attempt was that it seemed the whipped egg whites separated from the overall mixture. So I imagine I would have to incorporate the whipped egg whites a bit more to incorporate it more thoroughly with the mixture base even though it might deflate the mixture more than intended.
One final observation: after chilling the castella in the refridgerator for a few hours and tasting a few more cut samples, the castella flavors really seemed to meld and really seemed to taste like the offering from the restaurant. My wife is still asking me if it would be possible to reduce the amount of sugar and shrimp in the dish. I suppose that something the next time I make a microbatch. I might also touch base with Omae-san at Morimoto NYC to see if there were any ‘adjustments’ that were made to the recipe since the book came out.
Perhaps as part of my holiday tasting menu ‘rice course’, I could include two pieces per person as part of a ‘nigiri’ offering.