I‘ve had my eye on this recipe from Momofuku for a while and figured the dinner would be a good showcase, since it is both a seafood dish and uses Asian flavors that would compliment the next course. Unfortunately, due to the a la minute nature of its preparation, I don’t have a thorough photo documentation. I also had to make two substitutions: the original recipe uses kohlrabi and chanterelles, neither of which I could locate, so I used celery root and shiitakes instead.
I was able to do some of the prep in advance. I made a batch of bacon dashi a few days ahead, then pickled baby shiitakes in water, rice vinegar, salt, and sugar, and let them sit in the fridge overnight:
I diced and boiled the celery root, mashed it, and passed it through a tamis to make a smooth purée, which I kept warm while the meal started. Lastly, I crisped some batons of miso bacon I had in the Belm Utility Research Kitchen, figuring the sweetness would compliment the scallop, and besides, who doesn’t like scallops with bacon?
I dried and seasoned eight large scallops, then seared and butter basted them for a few minutes.
To plate, I smeared the celery root purée across a bowl, centered the scallop, garnished with the pickled shiitakes and some julienned scallions, then carefully spooned in the hot dashi, finishing with the bacon batons and a sprinkle of iwa nori (the pre-processed seaweed used in nori wrappers).
The scallop was accompanied by a chilled dry Riesling:
The scallops were perfectly cooked (crispy sear on one side, still-soft texture), the broth was smoky and flavorful, and the garnishes all played their parts: acidity from the shiitakes, crunch and sharpness from the scallion, and a taste of the sea from the nori, which also emphasized the konbu base in the dashi. I liked the restraint of the dish, and that it was just a few satisfying bites – a trend I need to expand upon in the future.