It’s time to reveal our arsenal of unconventional weapons. For this battle we’re choosing the nuclear option. If you happen to be 999,999 on the wait list for a reservation at El Bulli forget about it. They’re closing in September. But inspired by the great man Ferran Adria I would like to offer up something different this week. For the scallops theme I’m making a “sea foam” with blood orange. This riffs on the classic “sauce maltaise”---hollandaise infused with blood orange juice---most often used with asparagus. So asparagus are included. And the scallops receive a pistachio crust. It does involve some high tech equipment, in this case an ISI whipper, but there are other options for that. I like to think of a recipe as a diagram rather than a program. In school I was taught to diagram a sentence. Sometimes it’s helpful to think in those terms; as in the adverb goes here. But because I went to school I also know that “U” is not a personal pronoun, nor is “R” a form of the verb “to be”. The ingredients are not complex but the technique is, only because you have to think it through. Let’s get cooking. —pierino
- Serves 4
sea scallops (fresh if possible)
cup pistachio nuts
Blood oranges, enough to provide 1 pint of juice
seven oz packets of powdered gelatin or the equivalent in gelatin sheets
asparagus tips (large or small)
Canola or grapeseed oil for frying
Sea salt and pepper
- Take off your clothes.
- Blanche the asparagus tips (DON’T discard the stems, puree them or something) and hold in cold water until needed.
- In a small, dry skillet toast the pistachio nuts, just enough…
- In a small sauce pan heat the orange juice, but don’t boil. Strain into a bowl and whisk in the gelatin. Hold that in your whipper. We’ll come back to that later.
- In a nut or spice grinder, or the small bowl of a food processor chop the pistachios down to a coarse grain and spread out on a plate or pie pan and season with salt and pepper
- Slice the scallops across the equator into thin disks.
- Drain the asparagus tips.
- Heat the oil in a skillet until shimmering but not smoking.
- Dredge the scallops in the pistachio crumbs and sear on both sides. Scallops cook quickly so don’t rubberize them. They will release liquid into the pan.
- Meanwhile (don’t you love that?) seal the whipper and load one cartridge of gas. Nose down, shake vigorously. If you don’t have an ISI see note below. Don’t give up.
- For serving, foam an appetizer plate, arrange five to six scallop slices and add five asparagus tips. Repeat. Serve at once.
- Notes to cook: I’ve read about other methods to make a foam but haven’t experimented with them. You could try using an immersion blender keeping the business end below the surface. I have a cappuccino frother (swag) that I’ll test one of these days. I’ve also seem some chefs use lecithin as opposed to gelatin, but you get the idea, right?