This shellfish terrine was made of shrimp and lobster and using a product called Activa. Activa is a “transglutaminase” produced by a Japanese company called Ajinomoto. It is a dry powder that acts as a protein coagulant, using a naturally occurring enzyme to link proteins. While large companies have been using this for years with unfortunate results (think chicken nuggets), it has slowly been trickling down to modern kitchens over the past several years.
Activa can be sprinkled onto a protein as a powder, or a slurry can be made for the protein to be dredged in. It doesn’t work as well for proteins that have been cured, such as bacon or prosciutto, and doesn’t work at all on proteins that have been cooked. When handling Activa, it is important to exercise caution as it is a very fine powder and you are made of protein. Inhaling Activa could lead to unfortunate results.
For this terrine I used a shrimp mousseline, mixed with chopped lobster knuckle and claw meat. The raw shrimp was roughly chopped and seasoned with kosher salt, freshly ground white pepper, then tosses with sherry and raw minced shallot. It was then placed in the freezer until semi-frozen, then run through a meat grinder with a medium die. The ground shrimp was then placed in a Vita Prep blender with a small amount of heavy cream to add some fat and flavor, and egg whites for added protein. It is absolutely crucial to made sure that all ingredients are ice-cold so they can be emulsified, ensuring that the resulting mousseline will be smooth and not broken. All equipment used is placed in the freezer until chilled. The Vita Prep blender is used because it’s powerful motor produces enough revolutions per minute to emulsify the mousseline without keeping it in the blender long enough to become warm and break.
The lobster was then tossed with Activa, then folded through the mousseline with dried parsley and thyme. Typically I use fresh parsley, but I’ve found that the dry parsley rehydrates and has great color in applications like this, whereas fresh parsley tends to bleed its color into the terrine.
The terrine was then wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and punched with a sausage poker to remove any air bubbles. Then it was wrapped in another layer of plastic wrap before going into the water bath at 140 degrees Fahrenheit for one hour fifteen minutes. The terrine was then removed and placed into an ice bath. It was refrigerated overnight before being sliced.
When slicing, it is important to use a very long, very sharp slicer to ensure that the slice can be made with one stroke and will not have the “stair-steps” that result from moving the knife back and forth. It is best to slice terrines while they are still in plastic wrap, to help support it’s structure while you’re slicing it. The plastic wrap can easily be removed from each piece after slicing. Also, presenting the slices in the order in which they were cut will result in a uniform and attractive presentation.
The fully cooked terrine slices were reheated gently in a tightly wrapped hotel pan that was placed in the steamer. They were brushed with clarified butter before plating to add flavor and a nice sheen.
The popcorn shoots are courtesy of our friends at Lucky Leaf Garden.