Thursday, May 5, 2011

Pan-Roasted Scallops with Morels and Asparagus Puree

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.

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