Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Shaved Brussels Sprouts with Kumquats and Scallop
Every now and then you make a dish so show-stoppingly delicious, so interesting and elegant and just plain perfect that your friends will ask why it is that you don't just open a restaurant. This salad is such a dish.
To be fair, I actually did steal the inspiration for this salad from a lovely local restaurant, where my friend and I were lucky enough to enjoy it just about a year ago. And, like the best of these no-home-chef-could-have-thought-of-that dishes, it's actually surprisingly simple. Brussels sprouts are shaved into thin slivers, dressed with a basic vinaigrette, then tossed with skin-and-all slices of of the season's tiniest, punchiest citrus (my local natural market happened to have both kumquats and mandarinquats for a fun bit of variety, but just one type would be fine). And then the whole affair is topped with a perfectly seared scallop (and yes, these tend to be expensive, but you only need one or two per person to create the magic).
The end result is ridiculous, just miles from your standard dinner salad. Crunchy sprouts, juicy sour citrus, and the sweet, briny scallop. It's perfect as a jaw-dropping first course for a dinner party, or a date night in (hello, Valentine's Day!). We served ours with a crusty baguette, a rich and creamy soup, and a cold bottle of Trader Joe's cheapest white wine. We joked about the restaurant I could open (named, for reasons too ridiculous to discuss, Cloen), and the price this meal could command ($50 per was suggested). But really, who wants to worry about restaurant rents and staffing and overhead (and other things we know next to nothing about) when we can just light some candles, call our next door neighbors to come over, and enjoy a dish like this on a Monday night?
Shaved Brussels Sprouts with Kumquats and Scallops
inspired by a dish at Evoe
8 good-sized scallops (if they're ridiculously large, you can just use 4)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons mellow vinegar, such as sherry, or fresh lemon juice
small dollop of honey or pinch sugar
salt and pepper
~1 1/2 cups Brussels sprouts, washed and peeled of any bad outer leaves
~8 kumquats, or 4 kumquats and 2-4 mandarinquats
high-heat oil, such as grapeseed, for frying the scallops
Place the scallops on a paper towel-lined plate, and refrigerate, uncovered, for 30 minutes to dry out and enable a good sear (in the name of posterity, I would like to state that I got a crazy good sear on mine, but we ate too late for pictures so I shot this with leftovers — do not judge me by my morning-after softened scallop).
To make the dressing, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, and hone/sugar in a small dish, and season to taste with salt and pepper (the citrus will contribute acidity, so your dressing can be a bit on the oily side). Set aside.
With a mandoline or knife (if you, like me, don't have a mandoline), slice the Brussels sprouts as thinly as possible. Place in a bowl, and toss with the dressing, to separate the shreds and coat with dressing. Divide among your serving dishes. Slice your kumquats (and/or mandarinquats) relatively thinly as well, flicking out any seeds, and divide among the plates.
Take the scallops out of the refrigerator, and season with a sprinkling of salt. Heat a large pan (not non-stick) over a medium high heat. Add a slick of oil, and when it just begins to smoke, add the scallops. Cook until they develop a nice crust and release from the pan, then turn and sear on the second side. Top each salad with two scallops (or one, if they're large and you're using half the amount), and serve.