Deep Dive: a plated dish

Of the five dishes from the “Namie” pop-up, I would say this was probably the one with the least amount of true Asian influence. While I took more inspiration from Halal/Middle Eastern flavors, it would be a stretch to say that it took influence from Halal-Chinese food, when it was more Jordanian with sprinkles of Chinese and Japanese influences that if you blinked, you’d miss them. For this dish, we had seared scallops with a lace tuile(made from a scallop dashi), charred squash yogurt, shaved squash, nasturtium oil, and a lemon-squash emulsion. The inspiration to use squash, ironically enough, came from my coworker, Mark, who gifted me with a giant yellow squash that he and his wife grew in their garden. Since I was debating on what to pair the scallops with, since I had in mind to do scallops with the lace tuiles, and use nasturtiums because they look like lily pads, I figured, why not just use the squash? I knew that I could emulsify the seeds with lemon juice, olive oil, and salt to create this sort of creamy lemon sauce, since I’ve seen people use pumpkin seeds in moles and salsas in the past before. With the remainder of the squash, I wanted to shave some raw, since I love the grassiness of it, and charred the rest of it with olive oil and garlic, then pureed it into a smooth, creamy puree. Hilariously enough, the charred yogurt was a major hit, if not the highlight of the entire menu, because everyone was raving about that particular component, so thank you Mark for supplying me with that squash, because it would not have been possible without it!

For the components themselves, I made a stock using the scallop’s abductor muscles(this little nub on the side of the scallop that turns rubbery when you cook it), with kombu and water. That base stock was used for the lace tuiles, just to impart a scallop-y flavor into them – lace tuiles themselves are very Chinese, as we usually use them for things like potstickers! They also resemble coral, which is what I was going for on a visual standpoint. The other components are the preparations of squash, seared scallops, and nasturtiums, which are both a lily pad-like leaf and a bright orange-red flower, both of which have a pleasant pepperiness to them, to contrast the lemon throughout the dish! Overall, it was a fun dish to make, and it does embrace the immediacy in cooking, as this is a dish that needs to be eaten as soon as it’s plated, or the tuiles go soft quickly.

For the scallop stock:
Abductor muscles from scallops
4g kombu
3 cups water
a pinch of salt

Bring your ingredients to a simmer, in a pot with the lid on, for 20 minutes. Keep warm for making the tuiles with.

For the charred zucchini yogurt:
1 1/2 yellow squashes, seeds removed and reserved
4 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup olive oil, in 4 parts
a pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups Greek yogurt
1/2 teaspoon sumac

In a cast iron pan or sheet tray, place on the squash and garlic. Drizzle with half of the olive oil and salt and roast at 400 degrees F for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven. Saute the squash with one more part of the oil until the exterior is significantly darkened – roasting it will help the squash caramelize more. Puree the squash, garlic, and remaining oil with Greek yogurt and sumac until it reaches the consistency of hummus.

For the shaved yellow squash:
1/2 a yellow squash
a pinch of salt
juice from 1 lemon
1 teaspoon olive oil

Shave the squash on a mandolin into medallions. Cut a line halfway through the squash and toss with the other ingredients. When it comes time to plate, slide the squash into cone shapes.

For the nasturtium oil:
8 large nasturtium leaves
1/4 cup olive oil
a pinch of salt

Blanch the nasturtiums in hot water for 10 seconds and shock in ice water. Puree with olive oil and salt to form your herb oil.

For the lemon-squash puree:
reserved squash seeds
2 tablespoons olive oil
a pinch of salt
juice and zest of 2 lemons
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum

Mix the squash seeds with olive oil and salt first. Let that sit for 10 minutes at room temperature. This will allow the seeds to tenderize in the oil for easier blending. Puree everything until it forms a smooth and velvety sauce.

For the tuile:
1 cup warm scallop stock
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon oil

Whisk ingredients together until frothy and bubbly. Heat up a nonstick pan until very warm(water should evaporate off the surface), then pour on your frothy batter. Allow the tuile to slowly brown and bubble on medium heat until there is no more movement in the pan. Gently lift the tuile off the plate and break into smaller pieces.

For the scallops:
21 Hokkaido scallops
a pinch of salt

Heat up a cast iron or nonstick pan. Pat the scallops dry with a towel and salt one side. Place the scallops in the hot pan with oil, salted side down. Season the other sides at this one. Sear the scallops on each side for about 1 minute. Place on a paper towel to drain off any excess oil.

For plating:
Nasturtium petals

Start with a line of the yogurt. Then garnish with scallops, squash shavings, nasturtium leaves and petals, and on top of that, the tuiles. On the side, do a large circle of the lemon sauce, with a smaller circle of the nasturtium oil to finish.

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