Monday, June 14, 2021
Sea scallops are a delightful ingredient to work with, as they are naturally sweet, and, when cooked properly via a quick sauté, develop a delicious golden-brown crust. One incredible way to accentuate the sweetness and richness of the scallop is by pairing it with a highly acidic and wonderfully savory component. One of the most beloved and well-known acidic and savory preparations is the Caesar salad. The savory flavor from anchovies and parmesan, along with the acid from lemon juice are aromatized with garlic and a touch of black pepper. Caesar dressing represents a collaboration of dynamic ingredients in a harmonization of great depth in flavor on a “royal” level. In this version, the Caesar is somewhat deconstructed, as the dressing is kept as a single unit, but the salad is represented in a more modern and personal manner.
Caesar dressing, the flavor base to all great Caesar salads consists of egg yolks, canola oil, parmesan cheese, garlic, and anchovies. Since this Caesar is being utilized in conjunction with sea scallops, the ratio of ingredients will be adjusted accordingly. Anchovies are a wonderfully pungent, extraordinarily savory, and magnificently briny ingredient. While their inclusion in pizza may—sadly enough—make many people cringe, the function of anchovies in Caesar dressing is fundamental and critical to its success. Sea scallops will benefit from a high dosage of briny, savory flavor delivered by an increase in the amount of anchovy used in the dressing. In addition to increasing the anchovy in the sauce, the lemon juice will also be dialed up a bit, as the acid will be necessary to contend with the sweetness of the scallops and the richness of the overall dish. Fresh chives are thinly sliced and folded into the finished dressing for visual appeal and a fresh, aromatic bite to accent the sauce.
The sea scallops are best simply sautéed and finished in the pan with brief basting of butter, until medium rare. For the crouton element in the dish—which enhances the textural contrast of the plate—Pan de Mie bread is thinly sliced and cut to fit directly on top of the scallops. The bread adheres to the top of the scallops, and they are cooked in olive oil, with the bread remaining on the scallop and becoming crispy and golden brown. This bread crust is finished briefly in the oven, yielding a beautiful medium rare and crispy scallop.
Romaine lettuce is the traditional green selected for Caesar salad. Take the wonderfully crisp, sweet, and delicate baby Romaine and cut into spears, maintaining and respecting their natural shape, while accentuating their beauty. The leaves are dressed in the Caesar dressing and leaned up against each scallop, with the red and green leaves interlocking.
In order to extend the traditional Caesar flavor without pouring an excessive amount of the rich dressing on the plate, some of the important flavor bases are combined in a light and airy foam to serve as a playful sauce for the dish. With milk as the liquid base, a good amount of garlic, parmesan rinds, and lemon juice (added last to prevent curdling) are combined to create a delightfully unctuous broth. Thickened with gelatin, the mixture is placed in an ISI canister, charged twice and beautifully siphoned alongside the scallop in a small but superbly flavored cloud.
To increase the refreshing factor—and up the nutrition factor—of the dish, cucumbers and baby carrots are whimsically cut and lightly dressed, filling up the otherwise empty space between the scallops. Leave the skin on the cucumber, and shave thinly on a mandolin so that the top of each slice contains a thin layer of the dark green skin. Fold the slices inward and roll up like a rose, with the dark green skin popping out to gorgeously garnish the dish. Thinly shave the baby carrots, with some of the green attached, and submerge into ice water to curl, maximizing and enhancing their crisp nature. Dress the cucumber roses and carrot curls in a simple Meyer lemon vinaigrette and rest in between the scallops, bringing a joyous acidic burst and textural delight to the plate. This remarkable interpretation of a Caesar preparation will surely take diners on a breathtaking and refreshing journey.