TL;DR – Often the first attempt will miss the mark. Time to rework one of our earlier ideas.
Final Recipe: A scallops based appetizer course with inspiration from modernist gastronomy. The scallops are paired with micro greens, zucchini blossoms, and topped with a bacon infused dashi foam.
A few weeks back we created Cliffside which was an inspiration based on a view I had while dining in San Diego. The dish didn’t exactly come together as you can see in the post so I have decided to retry this.
Microgreens was something I ran into while reading a random book on produce I found at the library and found them very interesting. Basically they are the sprout form or early stages of different vegetables that have taste and nutrition packed into them. They have become players in many high end kitchens for both the flavor and flair they can add to plating a dish. Some really unique types:
- Bulls Blood
- Red Beet
Basic searches have led me to believe that these are a bit harder to find but I will keep trying at Farmer’s Markets or Speciality Stores. When I decided to redo this dish, micrograms became a great inclusion to add the necessary earthy flavors and flair to this otherwise dull dish.
I tried to go back to the core of the original concept: the feeling of being at the cliffside–earthy, fresh, & sea-breeze. Sometimes it is best to simply to improve. Given that this post is an improvement rather than a new development, I am highlighting the changes and can refer to the original attempt for some of the details.
Going back to the post-game analysis (this step is very helpful when trying to improve for next time), we focused our critique on the composition and interaction between the ingredients; it seemed like the flavors worked.
For my meat I decided to stick to the scallop or abalone option not to stray to far away from the initial concept. I am thinking of playing around with slicing the the scallops and cooking it with acidity (like a ceviche) rather than heat.
The dashi at the bottom of the plate didn’t work too well last time for a few reasons: viscosity, color, and amount relative to the central meat. So I am thinking of creating a dashi foam or vinaigrette and using it as sauce. I will stick close to the original recipe of the dish (bacon, umami, sansho pepper etc.) with the change of adding viscosity with zantham gum.
The microgreens will be a great inclusion to add color, contrast, and more of that earthy-ness that comes from cliffside setting.
New plating concept: scallops resting on a bed of microgreens with a dashi foam ontop. Potentially include the scallop shell as part of the plating.
I spent a lot of time tasting the ingredients both individually and together.
This was a pain in the ass to find in normal grocery stores. Call ahead if you’re planning on going to look and also heads up that most of these are seasonal. The initial idea and colors that I had in mind wasn’t available so I had to impromptu a bit. I ended up with:
- Daikon Sprouts
- Golden Pea Shoots
- Squash Blossoms
I used the shoots/sprouts to create a base for the scallops. I made a chiffonade of the blossoms to top the scallops.
Scallops: Option 1
If you are scared of eating them raw you can chose to sear them on one side for 3 or so minutes. After tasting the scallops raw I knew that Option 2 was the way to go.
Scallops: Option 2
Sliced in into bite-sized pieces. Raw.
The basics of a vinaigrette is an emulsion of fat, sour, and seasoning. I started my dashi with a bacon-y stock and a touch of sesame oil.
After the bacon flavor has transferred to the liquid I layered the rest of the dashi flavors in (your choice: seaweed, bonito, mushrooms). Salt and pepper.
Strained broth. Added vinegar for the sour (can use lemon, or anything else with acidity). I then blended a bit of xanthum gum into the broth to the desired consistency.
The gum helps to thicken the liquid but also allows you to easily foam it. You can either chill the vinaigrette at this point or use it warm depending on preference.
Lastly, play around with the plating.
A touch of sansho pepper and the squash blossom chifonade. Layer the foam ontop.
Post Game Analysis
- With very similar flavors to the original, the final look of the dish is quite different looking
- Very subtle tastes in the final version might not be to everyone’s liking; personal objective was to let the sweetness of the scallops shine but that meant using delicate flavors in the foam (not too much bacon, etc.)
- I think it looks and tasted great; I want to refine the base of micro greens a bit but was having trouble with the layering (messy vs clean, spread vs uniform, etc.)