Spencer Cove Oysters with Leeks and Caviar Sabayon
There are probably a million ways to use leeks, soups, baked, grilled, poached, steamed, as an appetizer or a side dish or a garnish on a dish. In this recipe the leeks are julienned and simply slowly cooked in Champagne which give them a bright and yeasty flavor. Make sure you take them out of the cooking liquid as soon as they are tender. The white sturgeon caviar is a very luxurious item that is replaceable by less expensive caviars available on the market. For good resource try Seattle Caviar Company in Seattle.
Rock salt is a great tool for helping keep the oysters steady on the baking pan and the plate. Be sure to use a generous layer, so the shells will be able to settle into the salt. You can also use the salt on the serving plates for the same purpose, which also provides a striking visual element. For a more decadent presentation, you could top each oyster with a small dollop of extra caviar just before serving.
12 small Spencer Cove oysters in the shell
1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup Champagne
2 small leeks, white part only, split, cleaned, and very thinly sliced
3 egg yolks
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 ounces white sturgeon caviar
Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with about 1 inch of rock salt.
Shuck the oysters. Discard the top shells and carefully cut the adductor muscle that attaches each oyster to its bottom shell. Pour the nectar from each oyster into a small dish; reserve the nectar. Set the oysters, in their shells, on the prepared baking sheet, nestling them gently into the salt so they sit evenly.
Put the cream and oyster nectar in a small skillet over medium-high heat and boil to reduce by half, 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside.
Put 1/2 cup of the Champagne in a small skillet with the leeks and a pinch of salt. Cook over medium heat just until the leeks are tender and the Champagne is fully reduced, 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Whisk together the egg yolks and the remaining 1/4 cup of the Champagne in the top of a double boiler or in a stainless steel bowl set over a pan of simmering, not boiling, water. Whisk the mixture until frothy and doubled in volume, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the reduced cream with the melted butter slowly and continue whisking until fluffy and thickened, and a ribbon of the mixture holds on the surface for a few seconds when the whisk is lifted, 3 to 5 minutes longer. Take the pan from the heat and gently fold in the caviar.
Bake the oysters just until warmed, but not cooked through, about 2 minutes. Take the oysters from the oven and turn on the broiler (or a blow torch). Top the oysters with an even layer of the leeks, then spoon the sabayon evenly over and broil, or using the blow torch, until the sabayon is lightly browned, about 1 minute.
To serve, make a bed of rock salt on individual plates (you can reuse the salt from the baking sheet but it will be hot, so use a large spoon to transfer it) and arrange 3 oysters on each plate, in a spoke pattern. Add a tuft of fennel to the center of the plate for garnish and serve right away.
Makes 4 servings