Red Sea Urchin in Cucumber Vichyssoise with Kusshi Oysters and Lemon Cream

February 26, 2009

Vichyssoise is a creamy French-style soup made with puréed leeks, onions, and potatoes, and traditionally served cold. Red sea urchings are larger than the smaller and sweeter green urchins. Preparing the urchins for this dish can be a bit messy – don an apron and work over a baking sheet with a generous lip to catch all of the juices that run out.

VICHYSSOISE
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
12 oz leeks, white part only, thinly sliced
1⁄2 small onion, thinly sliced
4 oz potatoes, thinly sliced
12⁄3 cups chicken stock (page 184)
3⁄4 cup table cream (18% milk fat)
1 English cucumber, peeled, seeded and sliced

VICHYSSOISE: In a medium pot, melt butter over medium-high heat and sweat leeks and onion with a good pinch of salt and several turns of pepper for about five minutes until tender but not browned. Add potatoes and chicken stock and simmer for 35 minutes until potatoes are tender. 

Add cream, then transfer the soup to a food processor and purée while gradually adding the raw cucumber slices. 

Strain the soup through a medium-mesh sieve into a clean bowl. Season to taste, then refrigerate until chilled, about one hour. 

LEMON CREAM
1 cup whipped cream
Zest of 1⁄2 lemon
1 tsp chopped tarragon leaves
1 tsp lemon juice
Pinch of cayenne pepper

LEMON CREAM: In a small bowl, combine cream, lemon zest, tarragon, lemon juice, cayenne, and a pinch of salt.

SEA URCHIN AND OYSTERS
4 medium red sea urchins
12 kusshi oysters, shucked
1 Tbsp minced chives,  for garnish
1 Tbsp finely diced cucumber, for garnish
4 to 8 sprigs watercress, for garnish

SEA URCHIN AND OYSTERS: Place a small cutting board in the centre of a baking sheet. Place each sea urchin, mouth-side up, on the cutting board, and crack it open with a heavy chef's knife without smashing completely through the urchin. Alternatively, with sharp, pointy scissors, cut a 1-inch circle around the hole in each sea urchin. This is its mouth. Empty the liquid inside the shell onto the baking sheet, then strain it into a small bowl. With a teaspoon, carefully remove the roe from each sea urchin and wash it in a bowl of cold salted water to remove any grit. Discard the shells. 

To serve: Ladle three-quarters of a cup of the vichyssoise into four soup bowls, then garnish with the sea urchin roe and the oysters. Scoop a spoonful of lemon cream into the centre of each bowl and sprinkle with chives and cucumber.

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