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This recipe comes from the San Francisco Bay Area’s Madcap, owned and operated by chef Ron Siegel. The focus is on seasonal, local ingredients and there are Japanese influences evident in many dishes, like this creamy panna cotta with uni (sea urchin roe), shiso (a mint-like herb), ginger, and plum vinegar. Star anise and vanilla bean add additional layers of fragrance to this elegant starter, but aside from the potential extra work of sourcing a few of the ingredients, it’s surprisingly easy to pull together.
Shopping List: Shiso is a mint-like herb with a more complex flavor (including notes of cinnamon, clove, and basil), and is similar to but distinct from perilla leaves. You can substitute a more readily available combo of mint and Thai basil if you have trouble finding shiso. Fresh uni can be purchased at an Asian market, as can fish collars, a bony, gelatinous cut from the neck—you may also be able to get fish collars from the seafood counter at any supermarket that breaks down whole fish (or buy a whole fish to prepare at home and save the collar for this recipe).
If you’re really into roe, try this Uni Filet recipe too.