We’re back again with another valuable technique, the water bath, essential for gentle cooking. The water bath uses the miracle tool, water. Water makes life as we know it possible. It’s one of the only substances that expands when it freezes rather than contracts (if it didn’t, ice would sink, not simply ruining your gin and tonic, but rendering the gin and tonic moot, as most of habitable earth would be flooded). Water cannot go above 212°F in normal circumstances (it can if you heat it under pressure or, with less pressure, specifically at high altitudes, it turns to gas at lower temperatures). And importantly, it cools as it evaporates (which is why sweating cools our body).

In this video we use it to gently cook emulsified shrimp and cream, mixed with whole chunks of seafood for an easy and elegant crab and scallop terrine. (A water bath also creates a super-juicy meatloaf, btw.)

You can read more about terrines in my book Charcuterie, if you’re so inclined, and I rhapsodize about water as one of the key techniques in Ruhlman’s Twenty. I’ll be back next week with another technique. See more of my technique videos here on the LC site. Also, at the end of the video, there’s a fun experiment LC is trying, called the Pass It On Potluck. I’m fascinated to see how it’s going to work. To enter, go here.

Seafood Terrine

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ½ teaspoon saffron
  • 16 ounces peeled and deveined shrimp
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 leek, white part only, thoroughly cleaned, diced small and sautéed in butter till tender, then chilled
  • 4 ounces/120 grams scallops, chopped in large chunks or whole if small
  • 4 ounces/120 grams lump crab meat
  • ¼ cup minced chives
  1. Bring the cream to a simmer over high heat, then remove from the heat and add the saffron. Let the saffron infuse the cream for 15 to 20 minutes. Strain into a clean container and thoroughly chill.
  2. Preheat your oven to 300°F/149°C.
  3. Be sure all ingredients to be pureed are very cold. Puree the shrimp with the egg whites and salt in a food processor. With the machine running, slowly add half of the cream. The mixture should be stiff enough to shape. Continue adding the rest of the cream with the machine running.
  4. In a mixing bowl combine the shrimp mousseline with the leeks, scallops, crab, and chives, gently folding the garnish to distribute it evenly.
  5. Line a terrine mold with plastic wrap (it helps to wet the mold so that the wrap sticks). Fill the terrine mold with the seafood. Fold the plastic wrap over it and cover with a lid (or foil).
  6. Bring a large pot of water to a simmer. Set the terrine in a roasting pan and pour the simmering water into the roasting pan so that it comes three-quarters of the way up the sides of the terrine mold. Put the roasting pan in the oven and cook until the terrine reaches an interior temperature of 135° to 140°F/57° to 60°C. Watch the video for serving ideas.

Makes eight 3-ounce portions.

Mayonnaise

  • 1 tablespoon shallot, minced
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Pinch of cayenne powder
  • ¾ cup/180 milliliters vegetable oil
  1. Combine the shallot with 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice and set aside while you make the mayonnaise.
  2. Combine the remaining 2 teaspoons lemon juice, the salt, water, yolk, and cayenne in a bowl (or in a large Pyrex measuring cup if you’re going to use a hand blender, my preferred method). Whisking continuously, add a drop or two of the oil into the bowl or cup to establish the emulsion, then continue pouring the oil in a thin stream into the bowl while whisking, until all the oil has been incorporated and the mayonnaise is thick and sumptuous. If using the hand-blender method, you can add the shallot after mixing for a chunkier mayo, or blend the shallot with the yolk for a smooth finished mayo.

Makes about 6 ounces/180 grams

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© 2013 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2013 Donna Turner Ruhlman. All rights reserved.