Recipe: Uni encased in tomato water jelly


Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of whipping up a real feast. The occasion was the birthdays and wedding anniversary of my brother and his wife, which all fall on the very same day in November. Because of our current work and child schedules, Su-Lyn and I don’t find the time to entertain as often or as dramatically as we used to. But for this dinner, I decided to go all out.

The menu consisted of seven courses, as follows: uni encased in tomato jelly; slow cooked prawns with scrambled egg and crab roe; foie gras with roasted figs and bocconcini; roasted bone marrow over porcini risotto; charsiu pork medallions with roasted brussel sprouts, spaetzle and pomegranate seeds; Japanese short rib curry; and matcha tiramisu. Several of the dishes were concepts I had been pondering for weeks. While others, like the marrow and risotto, were ideas inspired by what was available when I did my grocery shopping the day before the dinner.

In the past, when Su-Lyn and I had more time, we used to enjoy testing out new recipes, refining them a couple of times before unleashing them on guests. These days, however, we’re always running out of time. (In fact, it’s gotten so bad that a few weeks prior, when hosting some food journo friends visiting from the UK and realising that we weren’t going to have the time to prep the meal, we convinced one of our invited guests–fortunately a chef himself –to cook the whole meal for us… but that’s another story which I’ll write about in a few weeks.) So to make a long story short, we simply don’t get the chance to test recipes anymore. And since the majority of dishes for my brother’s and his wife’s birthday dinner were new things I’d come up with, I simply had to cross my fingers and hope they’d look and taste as good on the plate as they did in my mind.

In addition to my brother and sister-in-law, two other couples joined us. And everyone brought lots of wine — the highlight from a night of highlights was probably the 1969 Vega Sicilia Unico Gran Reserva that my sister-in-law’s soon-to-be brother-in-law brought with him. I think, in all, we opened 8 bottles of wine that evening, and ended the night sipping some 1998 Suntory Single Cask whiskey I had carried home from Tokyo this past September.

The meal, thankfully, was a success–obviously enhanced by good wine and conversation. At the end of the night, I asked Su-Lyn which was her favorite dish. She said she liked the uni and tomato jelly the most, which was really cool because it was the dish I was, in some ways, the most stressed out about.

I don’t know how or why I thought up the idea of trapping a tongue of uni inside a rectangle of tomato water jelly. I guess I figured that the flavors of sea urchin and tomato would work really well together. I also really liked the visual idea of serving a clear or semi-clear jelly with this bright orange tongue encased inside it. It was simply a dish I wanted to try making. And hoped that my guests would enjoy it. Fortunately, the dish came together really well and paired gorgeously with a lovely cult red Burgundy that one of our guests brought. Having made this once, it’s a dish I’ll definitely make again when entertaining.

While simple in concept, and simple in ingredients–uni and tomato, plus a few other things is all this really calls for–the dish does take a while to prepare (because of the tomato water) and is expensive (because of the uni). But if you have the time and the bucks, give this a whirl.

Photo taken by Henry Hariyono and generously shared here.

About Aun Koh

Aun has always loved food and travel, passions passed down to him from his parents. This foundation, plus a background in media, pushed him to start Chubby Hubby in 2005. He loves that this site allows him to write about the things he adores--food, style, travel, his wife and his three kids!