Heston Blumenthal. Credit Dominic Davies.
To help celebrate the University's centenary, Heston Blumenthal came up with a dish that encapsulates many of the ideas he has learned over the past decade or while talking to the scientific community about his food.
The dish, ‘The Sound of the Sea’, reminds us of Bristol’s strong maritime tradition. All Bristol graduates will have clear memories of the high tides in the Avon Gorge under the suspension bridge and of the old and new ships in the docks. The ss Great Britain, back in the dry dock where she was built, and the replica of Cabot’s Matthew, often seen in the floating harbour, give just a small flavour of the harbour as it must have been in the 18th and 19th centuries when it was working in full swing.
Place the sake in a pan, bring to the boil over high heat and flame off the alcohol. When the flame has died down, remove the pot from the heat and set aside to cool. Wash the outside of the yuzu and the sudachi, then cut in half. Juice the yuzu and the sudachi, straining out any seeds. Take the remaining fruit and remove any seeds contained inside. Cut the halves into quarters and place with the juice in a container large enough to hold all of the remaining ingredients. Add all of the remaining ingredients to the container and cover. Place in the refrigerator for one month to infuse and marinate. Strain the liquid through muslin, adjust seasonings with tamari, thin mouth soy sauce, or vinegar if needed. Keep the finished ponzu well wrapped and refrigerated.
In a food processor, grind the konbu down to a fine powder, pass through a sieve, and weigh out four grams. Mix all of the ingredients except for the miso oil in a mixing bowl. Add the oil, drizzling in a light stream, and stir together to a ‘wet sand’ consistency. Season with the sea salt and store covered until ready for use.
Fold together very gently and infuse covered in the refrigerator for a minimum of 24 hours (48 hours is preferable). Strain the oil through muslin by decanting the oil off of the top.
Combine all of the ingredients except for the dulce in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature before adding the dulce. Marinate, refrigerated, for 24 hours before using.
Reconstitute the hijiki in warm water until softened (about five minutes) and then drain off the excess water. Rinse the reconstituted seaweed with fresh water and then drain again. Season the hijiki with the soy sauce and mirin. Refrigerate covered until needed.
Rinse off the sawdust that the lily bulbs are stored in, dry, and cut out the core. Separate the individual petals and place in cold water. Using a small knife, cut each petal down to have the appearance of a seashell and store covered in fresh water. Blanch the lily bulb in salted simmering water. The lily bulb is cooked through when the pieces begin to float to the surface. Refresh the pieces in ice water and drain. Reserve the pieces cold for service. Note: It is important that the lily bulb retains a slightly crunchy texture here and it is quite easy for these to become overcooked in a matter of a few seconds. It is best to prepare the lily bulb a few pieces at a time to prevent overcooking.
In a saucepot combine the carrot, onion, garlic, fennel, leek and shallots in the vermouth and white wine and simmer until translucent, adding water if necessary to prevent the vegetables from catching on the bottom. Add all of the shellfish and cover with the water. Bring the pot up to 85°C, cover, and infuse for 25 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the konbu and parsley. Re-cover and allow to cool to room temperature while infusing. Remove the cover and skim any impurities that have risen to the top. Pass the stock through a chinois and then through a muslin-lined chinois. Cool the sauce base over an ice bath or in a blast chiller, then cover and reserve. Note: This recipe yields more than is required for the final stage, but the resulting product from these quantities will be better than if the recipe is scaled down. Surplus sauce base can be frozen for future use.
As close to the time of service as possible, heat a sauté pan large enough to hold the razor clams in a single layer over medium-high heat. Prepare an ice bath close to the hob with a metal pan inserted into the ice that is large enough to hold the razor clams in a single layer. This will ensure that the quickly cooked razor clams are cooled as quickly as possible. Add the razor clams to the hot pan and pour in the hot sauce base. Cook briefly just until the clams open (15 seconds). Remove immediately and place into the ice bath pan or into a blast chiller to cool rapidly. Remove the remaining liquid from the pan, strain, cool, and return to the sauce base. Remove the chilled razor clams from their shells and cut away the entrails with shears. Remove the tough section at the top of the remaining tube and then chill covered for service.
Clean the outside of the oysters with cold water. Shuck the oysters and reserve the juice. Strain the juice through a fine mesh sieve and use this juice to wash the oysters. Strain the juice once more and reserve the oysters in their juice refrigerated.
Combine the sauce base, oyster juice and white soy sauce in a saucepan and check for seasoning. For the service, bring the sauce to room temperature and add the soy lecithin and sodium caseinate. Incorporate air into the mixture using a hand blender until a soft foam is developed.
Rinse the live sea urchins under running water to wash away any mud or debris. As close to the time of service as possible, use a pair of clean kitchen shears to cut an opening around the mouth section of the sea urchin large enough to see all of the material contained inside clearly. Using a small dessert-type spoon, carefully remove the orange ‘tongues’ (ovaries) from the shell, discarding the other material contained inside. Place the ‘tongues’ on to a piece of kitchen paper and use immediately. Each whole sea urchin should yield enough for three portions.
Sound of the Sea, the finished dish. Credit Dominic Davies.
Use a rectangular plate to serve. Arrange each portion of sand in the middle of the plate and spread into a line parallel to the long edge of the plate. Using rigid card or spatula, shape the sand into parallel lines to have the appearance of a beach where the tide is washing. Toss the lily bulb in the ponzu and place on to the sand like a shell on the beach. Toss the wakame in the ponzu and drain on paper towel. Transfer the wakame to the plate and spread out along the edge of the sand. Spread the hijiki out over the sand in the same manner. Place the dulce out along the top of the seaweeds. Drizzle the ponzu on to the seafood pieces and place them on top of the seaweeds. Foam the sauce using a hand blender and spoon around the seafood as the ocean crashing on to the beach. Garnish the dish with three pieces of samphire and drizzle a bit more of the ponzu on to the dish. Serve with an MP3 player playing ‘The Sound of the Sea’.
*Samphire, or sea bean/sea asparagus as it is often called, is available both foraged from coastlines and farm raised. The small stocks should be trimmed of any thick, woody sections. If a batch is found to be slightly bitter, quickly blanch in boiling water and refresh in ice water before using.