Molasses Glazed Smoked Scallop with Truffled Corn Jus, Micro Basil, Crisp Shiitakes

There’s nothing I hate more than “palate fatigue”, eating so much of the same thing in one sitting that you become completely de-sensitized to the experience. I want our guest to find a new flavor or texture with every bite, and then have them finish right before they are satisfied…hopefully they are still thinking about the last course when the next one comes along.

One thing I like about this dish is that it maintains it’s novelty from start to finish. There are enough different flavors and textures to make it interesting from beginning to end.

For the scallop I cold smoked U-10 sea scallops after making sure they were very dry. After lightly smoking, I seared them and then brushed them with a molasses glaze that was equal parts molasses and veal stock. The veal stock tames the sweetness and also adds a deeper, richer background flavor for the molasses.

The truffled corn jus is extremely simple, and the quality of it will depend on the corn that you begin with. I take fresh corn off the cob and sauté it in whole butter over medium heat with just a little yellow onion and celery. Season with salt and pepper, then deglaze with chicken stock. I then use a slotted spoon to take the corn (with a little celery and onion) into a blender. Add just enough chicken stock from the pot to the blender for the blades to catch and puree the contents. You can adjust the consistency with the chicken stock. When you’ve finished, season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper. Drizzle with truffle oil to taste.

The crispy shiitakes are very simple and pretty phenomenal. Just cut the stem off and give it a fine julienne, then deep fry at 325 degrees until crispy, let drain on a paper towel. Season lightly with kosher salt. Frying them dehydrates them and intensifies the flavor. They taste like the earth.

Basil oil garnishes the plate. For basil oil I do the following: Fry the leaves of basil that you will use for the oil to lock in the chlorophyll. Use only salad oil, not olive oil or extra virgin olive oil, as the acidic nature of it will act on the chlorophyll and dull the color of the finished product. Vegetable oil is pretty neutral. I place the vegetable oil in the freezer as well. After the basil is fried and the pitcher and oil are chilled down, place the basil in the pitcher and add just enough oil to almost reach the top of the basil. Blend on the highest setting; Heat is your enemy in this process as it will also make the chlorophyll lose it’s brightness. You want to finish the basil oil before it gets a chance to warm up. Strain with a chinois. If you let it sit overnight it will separate by density and the solids will be on the bottom, you can pour off the oil leaving the bits of leaves behind. You can store the finished basil oil in the freezer and it will hold it’s color well between uses.

I garnish the plate with green and purple micro basil. I use Tega Hills Farms just outside of Charlotte. They have fantastic product and are just really great people to work with. Mark and Mindy Robinson own and operate the hydroponic farm and their number is (803)370-2132 if you’d like to learn more about their product.

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