CONCEPTION OF A DISH
Cioccolatino di pesce
«The idea came preparing a bisque with shrimp shells: I put the vegetables to brown and separated the carcasses to make them evaporate first with liqueur and then with white wine. At some point I realized that the carapaces released the pigment of the shell, colouring the oil of a bright orange. At this point I started thinking about the possibility of creating a coral-coloured oil, or even better a coverage: I made a test with the clarified butter instead of oil, toasted the shrimps, whipped and sieved them. The result was almost the same, but it retained a vague scent of butter, while I needed a grease that, once solidified, had a more neutral flavour. I thought then to cocoa butter, that I use to spoon onto chocolates, and to a predessert called choco-banana: I could create something similar but salty, starting indeed from the coverage obtained by the shrimps’ pigment. I put the shells into the oven to make them dry and then toasted them in the pan with cocoa butter. The shell dried out and released the pigment which is inside it, with no watery part. I melted everything, whipped together the melted butter and the shells’ skins that shattered like dust and sieved it, obtaining an orange-coloured butter. Well, now let’s see if the coverage works. I took an ice cube – I needed something cold to immerse in the butter – and dipped it briefly. The butter perfectly covered the immersed part and immediately formed a coat: the cocoa butter hardened instantly and created a thin even wrap.
We have started from the outside, from the shell: now we must think about the filling. Whilst on the “marine” subject I went for the cuttlefish, cooked it over low heat for a long time in order to soften it: once cooked, I cut it and put it into round moulds to freeze, obtaining one centimeter high cylinders. Then I pierced the cuttlefish cylinders with a long stick and put them a couple of times into the melted cocoa butter and shrimps until the cylinder was fully covered by this shrimp-flavour thin layer and looked like a chocolate in all respects. So I put everything back in the fridge, so that the inside of the chocolate was cold but not frozen.
Once on the table, the cuttlefish bounties are served with a black mayonnaise with cuttlefish, in order to resume the cuttlefish theme and to come full “conceptual” circle of the dish itself.»