An aggressively modern treatment, this is gazpacho pulled apart, re-imagined, and reassembled,
with trout roe and mango "ravioli" thrown in for good measure. There is a stunning minimalist
sensibility to this dish when it's on the plate in front of you, with each element separate
from the other, and each tasted separately, but the execution is about as maximal, effortwise,
as you can get.
José is one of the culinary field's mad geniuses, as evidenced by his "discovery" of tomato seeds-the part of the tomato that just about every chef discards-as a precious item, a bundle of glistening pearls. The gelatin of vinegar, the mango-trout roe ravioli, even the bell pepper, each becomes a design as well as a flavor element. When you eat this, delicious at it is, you feel you are wrecking a tableau.
Finally, when I say, "cut into the tiniest, most even dice you can manage," I'm translating what's called a brunoise cut. Brunoise are little cubes of food, about 1/16 of an inch on each side, and usually, when done by a skilled knife technician, quite square. I can't do that to save my life, but if you can, more power to you. Otherwise-as I say-cut the food into the tiniest, most even dice you can manage.
1 envelope (1 tablespoon) unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
4 medium tomatoes
1/4 cup diced decent white bread (like a Pullman loaf), cut into the tiniest, most even dice you can manage
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
16 thin slices taken from 2 nearripe, peeled mangoes, cut on a mandoline
1 small jar (about 1.2 cup) trout or salmon roe
1/4 cup finely diced cucumber (the tiniest, most even dice you can manage)
4 teaspoons finely diced bell pepper, preferably orange (the tiniest, most even dice you can manage)
2 scallions, white parts only, slivered
Coarse sea salt
1. Dissolve the gelatin into the vinegar in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently. Transfer to a small bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. (You can make this vinegar jelly as far in advance as you like.)
2. Cut about 1/8 inch off the top and bottom of each tomato, then assess where you'll make your next cut: There will be 2 or 3 chambers of seeds separated by 1 or 2 walls of tomato flesh. Make a cut through the outside flesh of the tomato where it meets one of the walls, then gently pull the flesh away from the seed packet. Detach the seed packet with a spoon from the center wall it's attached to and reserve. Repeat for remaining seed packets in each tomato. You want at least 2 seed packets per serving.
3. Preheat the toaster oven or oven to 200°F. Cut about 1/4 cup of the resulting tomato flesh into 1/4-inch dice and reserve. Puree the rest in blender or food processor and pass the resulting puree through a fine meshed sieve or strainer; discard the solids.
4. On a toaster oven pan or baking sheet, toss the cubed bread in tablespoon of the olive oil and toast in the oven until evenly browned and crisped. Reserve.
5. Make the "ravioli": Lay 2 slices of mango on a cutting board in front of you, overlapping them slightly in the middle. Put 1 tablespoon roe on the overlap, then fold the mango slices up, one over the roe and the other over it. Fold the sides underneath and reserve; repeat with remaining mango and roe.
6. Per plate, arrange 2 tomato seed packets, 2 trout roe and mango ravioli, two 1/2-tablespoon piles of diced tomato, 1 tablespoon diced cucumber, 1 teaspoon diced bell pepper, and two 1/2-tablespoon piles of jellied sherry vinegar. Scatter each pile with mini-croutons and slivered scallions. Top each tomato seed packet with a pinch of salt and drizzle each plate with 1 tablespoon olive oil (or more, if desired). Serve, saucing each portion lightly with the strained tomato juice at the table.