Another food i'm not a fan of: scallops. The first (and only) time before this that I had scallops, all I got was fishy and chewy. I'm a big textural person when it comes to food, so chewy-fishy does NOTHING for me. Given the above, I went into this dish a little (ok, a lot) skeptical. And knowing my aversion to scallops, hubby was excited that he would get two. But this was different. It was... delicious! In fact, when you balance difficulty/tastiness of a recipe, I think this comes out as being one of my very favorite French Laundry recipes yet! (at least as far as possible entrees go) It's also the perfect spring/early summer recipe - everything in this dish is seasonal, and seasonal pretty much at once.
This was pretty much three easy steps. (and its a little picture-light... just because I think I was busy with other things, like making the shrimp)
Step 1: blanch the asparagus, reserving the tips, blend the stalks (with a smidge of veg stock, if I recall correctly), then push it through a tamis.
Step 2: This was the only irritating thing about this dish - I looked EVERYWHERE for fresh morels, couldn't find any, so I had to settle for dried. And of course, the day after I made this, I walked into Whole Foods and saw fresh ones. Grrr. But I still soaked the mushrooms after dehydrating (thrice - my favorite law school word, i'm sure everyone in my section remembers it from 1L contracts!), then diced and tossed in with some crushed garlic and thyme sprigs and simmered. After a couple of minutes, I removed the thyme and garlic cloves, and add diced shallots in, then added some brunoise and butter. It was seriously the easiest "sauce" ever.
Step 3: warm some oil, then sear the scallops. I wish I would have taken a picture of my scallops because they were BEAUTIFUL! And cooked perfectly (the improvement over the first time I made scallops is... well... almost indescribable).
Ok, I lied, its really more like 4 steps if you count plating. Step 4: put some asparagus puree on the bottom of the plate, top with a little mushroom mixture, then the scallop, then the (warmed and buttered) asparagus tips, and a few tomato diamonds. Pretty! And easy! I think from start to finish, this would take about an hour. Its a little small for a true entree, but if you bumped it up to two scallops, I think it would be great.
Scallops - Point Loma Seafoods (dry-packed and freshly flown in the day before!). I think getting dry-packed scallops makes a huge difference in the flavor and browning, since I had some "backup" scallops from Whole Foods that I made the next day for leftovers, and they weren't nearly as good.
Dried Morels - Specialty Produce. I don't know if i've said anything about this place yet... but if so, i'm saying something again. My new favorite produce place, even though I have to keep a parka in my car in order to shop there. AND their website is the best ever, since you can find out the actual inventory online. Its fantastic.