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Thursday, March 10, 2005

Blog-Appétit: Scallops with curry sauce, rice with leeks

Stjacquecurry_2

So I finally have a bit of time to do an English version of the scallop recipe that I did for Blog Appétit the other day. Each month the French food bloggers are getting together to cook a dish based on themed, seasonal ingredients, sort of like Iron Chef without the loopy Chairman and the panel of giggling, bobble-head judges. There is a collective blog set up where you could find announcements and links to all who participated. The very first edition just took place two days ago. The theme ingredients were scallops and leeks. They even managed to invite Michel Porto, a Michelin star chef from Bordeaux, to participate. How cool!

I must admit I wasn't so sure I would participate when I first found out. I knew I would have to do it in French, which frankly is not quite for public consumption. Plus, I really wasn't sure what to do with scallops and leeks. Well, I know, I know, I would sauteed some leeks and sear some scallops and serve them like that. That would be delicious, but not exactly exciting as a recipe. I also gave some thought to doing something Thai, but just really wasn't sure what I wanted to do. Leeks are not exactly a staple in Thai cuisine.

The problem was I didn't want to just do a curry or something and then throw in the leeks as garnish. You all know that's a recipe for disaster on Iron Chef: when someone just throw in the theme ingredient almost as an afterthought, just so there are bits of it on the plate to satisfy the rules. You'd never win with a recipe like that. Nope.

So what to do? The epiphany hit during a drive home after work from San Jose. It was so obvious I had to laugh. Why didn't I think of it before? The scallops would have to be seared, of course, to get a good caramelization going, but besides the usual salt and pepper, I could accentuate the sweetness with some cumin and coriander seeds. I would do a sauce, a mild curry sauce using my homemade Panang red curry paste with some coconut milk. The curry sauce will be spicy but not super hot, only enough to offset the sweetness of the scallops. I would temper the dish even further by serving it with rice, and not just any rice, but one that has been cooked with caramelized leeks, to infuse the wonderful flavors of leeks into the rice. To garnish, I would cut some leeks and lime leaves into long then strips or chiffonade and fry them very quickly to a crisp perfection, to add yet another layer of complexity and texture to the finished dish.

The beautiful ingredients were procured from the best purveyors in our fair city. The gorgeous leeks came from Joe at the Dirty Girls stand at the Saturday farmers market, and the impeccably fresh scallops from Bryan's on California St. Couldn't let the French make fun of the quality of our ingredients now, could we?

Et voila! --drum roll-- Here it is, the recipe:

Saint-Jacques à la Sauce Curry, Riz aux Poireaux
Pour 4


For the rice
1 cup (100g) of leeks, peeled, washed, and cut into small dices
2 tbsp mild tasting oil
1 cup (200g) of jasmine rice
1.5 cup (12 fl.oz ) stock, salted well

1. Cook the leeks in oil until caramelized, stirring well for about 10 minutes.
2. Add the rice, stirring well for about 1 minute until the rice grains are all transparent.
3. Add the stock and cook in the rice cooker or a pot until the rice is done. Set aside.

For the curry sauce
1/2 tbsp (15g) panang or red curry paste
1 1/4 cup (300 ml.) coconut milk
1 tbsp fishsauce

1. In a small saucepan, cook the curry paste in 1 tbsp of coconut milk until it smells good, about a minute.
2. Add the rest of the coconut milk and fish sauce.
3. Taste it, you might need a bit more fish sauce, sugar, or even coconut milk, depending on your taste.
4. Simmer on very slow heat for 5 minutes. Set aside.

For the garnish
1/4 cup (10g) of leeks, peeled, washed, and cut into thin ribbons.
1 tsp flour
a pince of salt
5 lime leaves, cut into thin ribbons.
oil for frying

1. Toss the leeks in flour and salt, fry quickly in very hot oil until crispy.
2. Fry the lime leaves in oil until crispy. The lime leaves will cook very quickly, in just a second or two, so watch them carefully so as not to
3. Set aside to drain on a paper towel until ready to serve.

For the scallops
About 1 p. of scallops, or enough for about 3 large ones per person
1/2 tsp cumin seeds, crushed
1/2 tsp coriander seeds, crushed
salt and pepper to taste.

1. Season the scallops with a dusting of the cumin, coriander and salt and pepper.
2. Sear the scallops over very high heat on a nonstick pan, or use regular pan with a tablespoon of hot oil. Cook for 1-2 ,minutes on each side, until beautifully caramelized. Serve immediately.

To serve
Serve the scallops with a mound of rice and a few spoonful of sauce, topped with the fried lime leaves and leeks.

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» Posts of the Week from Too Many Chefs
This is my first shot at finding the Posts of the Week and I have to say it's a very pleasurable way to justify a couple of hours browsing foodie blogs. It seems like there's a new one out there every day and there's so much quality it's very difficul... [Read More]

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