Sweet Apple cider poached Clams in Pea Dashi sauce with Pea butter, Shelled sweet peas, Fennel blossom and Thai Purple Basil flowers.
I began making this dish by cooking some sweet peas in boiling water until soft and tender. Once drained I cooled the peas in a chilled water bath, drained and pureed in a blender with the smallest amount of water, just enough to help the blending process. This was then placed into a cheese cloth lined colander allowing the puree to drain its liquid, towards the end the pulp was squeezed through the cloth to get the remaining pea water. This process was then repeated with the collected water another couple of times until most of the solid matter was out of the water, leaving the water a vibrant lime green colour. The solids captured in the cheese cloth was then scraped into a bowl and set aside in the fridge, this is the pea butter. This separation is done using a centrifuge in a commercial kitchen and gives a more pure result and it would be a true statement if the purist would say my primitive separation doesn't have the same effect. But for those of us that can't afford a centrifuge for home cooking can still appreciate the concept to a certain point. The pea water was then frozen solid into ice cubes before being placed into a food grade plastic pouch along with a piece of dried kombu kelp and some bonito flakes. The pouch was then vacuum sealed and placed into a 53 degree C. sous vide bath for 30 minutes allowing the dashi flavours to infuse with the now defrosted pea water. The pea dashi was then removed from the pouch and strained into a saucepan which was then brought to a slow simmer and then removed from the heat. With a small amount I made a paste with a little arrowroot flour adding this back to the dashi and returning the saucepan to heat for a minute, whisking to thicken the sauce. The sauce was then set aside. Just before serving I placed a saucepan on a medium heat with enough sweet apple cider to cover some clams, when the cider reached a simmer I placed the clams and chopped shallots to the cider and placed a lid on the pot poaching the clams until they open up. These were then removed from the stove and using a slotted spoon placed into a small pool of the dashi sauce in the centre of the plate, Smearing some of the warmed pea butter to accompany and finishing the plate with a forage from the backyard garden adding a hint of anise with the fennel blossom bursting with fennel flavoured pollen and some tiny purple basil flowers also carrying the flavour of its origin.