1/2 lb. oyster mushrooms, brushed clean, each petal separated into "oysters" and the tough inner trunk discarded
3/4 stick butter
1 1/2 lbs. jumbo shrimp, shelled, deveined and butterflied so that they curl up and open when cooked
1 lb. sea scallops, each sliced in half crosswise so each piece retains the round scallop shape
2 c. clam juice
1 c. milk
1/4 c. dry sherry
1/3 c. flour
2 egg yolks
1/2 c. cream
puff pastry sheets
toasted almond slivers
1 small jar (7.8 oz) pimentos, sliced into 1" strips if whole; if already sliced, good for you
freshly chopped parsley
Poach fish in clam juice and remove as soon as shrimp and scallops are cooked through. Reserve the cooked fish and clam broth separately.
Sauté the oyster mushrooms in the butter, stirring gently, cooking only long enough for them to wilt. Do not overcook and do not let them them break into pieces. Sprinkle the flour over the mushrooms and butter, stir to make a roux, and cook off the raw flour taste, about 2 minutes. Do not brown the roux. Add in the milk, sherry and reserved clam broth and bring up to a gentle simmer.
Whisk together the cream and egg yolks. Take 1/4 c. of the hot sauce and whisking all the while, dribble the hot sauce slowly into the egg mixture to temper it. When it is fully mixed and smooth, slowly dribble this mix back into the simmering sauce, stirring all the while, so the eggs mix evenly and smoothly into the sauce and do not separate into bits of scrambled eggs. It's not hard. The eggs add a lovely sheen to the sauce. Give a the sauce a conservative shake of Worcestershire with a slightly heavier hand, add Tabasco. The sauces are for peppy accents, not predominant flavors. Add salt and white pepper. Stir in the pimientos. Remove from heat.
Now the puff pastry. If desired, you can create individual serving cups. I went for one large square to fit my intended serving platter. Roll out a sheet of thawed-but-still-cold pasty into a square slightly larger than the serving platter. Use a pizza wheel cutter to trim a neat square which will be the base of the shell. Use the cutter to cut four strips the length of the sides of the square, each strip about 1 1/2" wide. Save the outer trimmings. Use a fork to make indentations evenly spaced along each strip. This will create a crenelated effect. I was going for a castle look. Press the strips onto the base square along the edge to adhere. Pinch the overlapping strips at the corners so they hold together.
Here's an important and wise step. Use a sharp knife to trace a deep but not all the way through cut all around the base pastry along the inner edges of the border strips. Why? When you bake the pastry, the middle will puff up a lot and this will allow you to easily excavate excess center layers so you have ample room for the filling.
Take those extra bits of dough trimmings and press onto the backs of real scallop shells to make shell shapes. Don't worry if they aren't perfect. Bake the pastry following the package instructions. Resist the urge to glaze the pastry with extra egg or milk as this will impeded the rise of the dough.
Remove the cooked shell and decorative bits to a rack. If the center has puffed up too much, remove pieces one layer at a time to create a serving vessel large enough to hold all the filling. Let cool to room temperature. It can rest for an hour or two without suffering ill effects. Do not cover the shell nor refrigerate it.
Put the sauce back on the heat and bring back up to a simmer. Fold in the reserved cooked shrimp and scallops and cook until the fish is heated through.
Place your shell castle onto the serving platter and spoon in the sauced fish. Sprinkle toasted almonds and shower with finely chopped fresh parsley. Tuck the shell-shaped pastry pieces in decorative arrangements. NOTE: in the picture above, those are real scallop shells on the left side, not the puff pastry shells. The best example of the decorative pastry piece looks kind of like a mermaid tail on top of the filling.
Serve making sure everyone gets a nice piece of pastry. Each bite should be pastry and creamy filling.Print This Post