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
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
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?
Standup commis flâneur, and food historian. Pierino's background is in Italian and Spanish cooking but of late he's focused on frozen desserts. He is now finishing his cookbook, MALAVIDA! Can it get worse? Yes, it can. Visit the Malavida Brass Knuckle cooking page at Facebook and your posts are welcome there.