This dish has been loosely inspired by my trip to Sicily where beautiful fish and seafood abounds to tantalise the senses. The seafood infuses into the butter so beautifully to give it that silky, rich flavour. It is heavenly. Feel free to use pre-prepared gnocchi. I feel, however the home made ones are truly delicious. Sadly I am unable to easily source seaweed. I have substituted wood ear black jelly fungus which has a similar texture, if not flavour. It is readily available from Chinese supermarkets dry for reconstitution by boiling for about an hour. I felt it worked rather well. The tomato powder looks impressive as a garnish on the plate. This dish serves 6 people as an hors d’oeuvres.
18 gnocchi (see recipe below or alternatively use pre-prepared ones)
9 oz (250 gms) unsalted butter
18 raw tiger prawns with shells and heads
24 baby clams
12 scallops, coral removed
6 wood ears, reconstituted and torn into small strips
Tomato powder (see recipe below)
In a pan of simmering salt water, add the gnocchi for about a minute or until they rise to the surface. Drain them. Gently melt the butter in a pan. Separate the shells and heads carefully from the prawns. Sauté the shells and heads in the butter until they turn from grey to red. Carefully remove the shells then add the gnocchi, the shelled prawns and the scallops. Sauté them gently until the gnocchi start to turn a golden colour. Add the strips of wood ears then add the clams. Stir and cover the pan heating gently for about 10 minutes. Plate out the dish into bowls and garnish with tomato powder (see below)
For the gnocchi
2 lbs (0.9 kgs) King Edward or russet potatoes
Approx 1 1/4 cups (300 mls) plain flour
3 egg yolks
2 tbsp salt
Preheat the oven to 400F/200C. Bake the potatoes for an hour. Remove the potatoes from the oven then scoop out the flesh and pass it through a potato ricer or passatutto into a mixing bowl. Add 1/3 of the flour and all of the egg yolks, salt and pepper then beat together adding another 1/3 of the flour until the dough is smooth. Add more flour if necessary. Roll the dough into a long sausage shape of 1/2 inch (12mm) diameter and cut into 1/2 inch (12mm) length pieces. Roll each piece into an oval shape and, if desired, indent them with the back of a fork to make fluted oval patterns. Simmer the gnocchi in water. They are ready when they have risen to the surface. Remove them carefully from the pan with a slotted spoon and rest them on a kitchen towel to dry. Store them for up to two days in sealed food bags in the refrigerator or for several weeks in the freezer. When ready to cook, defrost if frozen and sauté the gnocchi in olive oil until they are golden brown.
For the tomato powder
Carefully place 4 medium tomatoes in boiling water for a few seconds. Strain the and plunge them into cold water. This will help you peel off the skin. Divide the skinned tomatoes into quarters, cut out the hard cores and push out the seeds. Cut the remaining pulp into small pieces and place on a silpat on a baking sheet. Warm the pulp in a cool oven at 100C/200F for about 40 – 60 minutes or until they have dried without darkening. Allow the pieces to dry then place them in a coffee grinder/miniature food processor and blend until it forms a fine powder.