Some like it raw

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No, there isn’t a sushi chapter in Good Fish, but tonight’s dish definitely was raw. And some of you will love it, and some of you will not (sorry Katy!)

Scallop Crudo (pg 83) is rated as the easiest scallop dish, and since there isn’t any cooking involved, it really does come together rather quickly. But your plating skills will be tested, and you may discover you are more of a perfectionist than you think!

The hardest part of this dish for me was cutting the raw scallop into horizontal 1/8-inch slices – even when I’ve seen Becky do this dish on at least two occasions.  But when the knife was in my hand, I felt like a butcher as I tried to slice thin, even round buttons of the fleshy scallop.  I froze them for about 20 minutes before starting, as Becky instructs, to allow for easier slicing – but I think the problem was the cutter, not the scallop.

But I carried on, laying out the delicate rounds of scallop on the plate – hiding my rough cuts as well as possible – and here’s where the plating skills will kick your butt. You spoon an orange reduction (easy sauce to make) over the scallops and then drizzle EVOO over them nicely.  But the beautiful vision of the finished dish in the cookbook (by the talented Clare Barboza) was in my mind, and I struggled to get the drops just right. And then you sprinkle pumpkin seeds, diced orange and chopped fresh mint, adding splashes of color and bursts of flavor, all while attempting to keep the work of art looking like the cookbook photo. Oh and don’t forget the Maldon salt for a little pop, although I used some alder smoked salt instead, since that’s what I had on hand.  It’s one damn beautiful dish, for sure, and it will impress anyone you dare serve raw scallop to…

So back to the beginning, I did not expect to like raw scallop when I first encountered it months ago while helping Becky cater a private party.  And I saw a few tipsy guests politely leave the barely-touched plate in a hidden corner of the kitchen, when they discovered it wasn’t their cup of tea – and I was further discouraged from trying it.

Until, of course, Becky made a special plate of it for me and said “Here you go!” with so much pride and enthusiasm that of course I had to try it.  And then she watched and waited.  What are you going to do when a professional chef creates a beautiful plate for you?? Well duh, you eat it – so I did.  And it was magnificent.  I felt stupid for being afraid to try it, because I would have missed out on such an amazing combination of sweet, sour, spicy, crunchy, umami goodness.  It’s become one of my favorites, which is a good thing because…

As I said in the beginning, some do not like it raw, no matter how much you will them too. My partner Katy sat watching me assemble this dish, fully intended to enjoy my labor of love, although the trepidation on her face was quite clear.  I will say she was a good sport and humored my “get all the elements in one bite, you’ll love it!” encouragement, but after two bites, she was done.  And that’s okay with me, at least she tried…and more for me now!

So what say you – raw scallop or no?

NEXT UP: The three-day camping trip to the Olympic Peninsula begins, and plans include Steamers with Beer (there’s an extremely low tide this weekend, so maybe we’ll dig them ourselves!), Dad’s Sardines on Crackers (easy for camping), and Cast-Iron Rainbow trout (fish in a skillet over a campfire? duh!)


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Copyright 2011 Karen Rosenzweig