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Japanese Wafu-Style Orzo


(serves 3)
How does one cook a light pasta that still tastes good? For the answer we have to look not to Italy, but to the Far East where the Japanese have developed Wafu Cuisine, a style incorporating the best of Japanese and Western cooking. Miraculously, my Wafu Pasta recipe is not based on cream, cheese or oil, yet it’s still delicious and satiating. You will find this Italy meets Japan recipe great for the formal dinner table but also perfect for those times when you just want to have dinner on the sofa.      
 

Ingredients Wafu Orzo

  1. Scallops (12=200g)
  2. Shaved Ham (100g)
  3. Mushrooms (100g)
  4. Corn (1 ear)
  5. Scallion (4 sprigs)
  6. Orzo a.k.a. Risoni (200g)
  7. Miso
  8. Butter
  9. Sesame Oil
  10. Sherry

Preparation 

  1. Slice each scallop into 3 discs. Marinate them in a mixture of 1T of sesame oil and a flat 0.5t of salt.
  2. Cut the mushrooms into thin slices. Any kind of brown or white mushrooms will do. If they are large, cut them in half before slicing.
  3. Julienne the bottom 1/4 (white) of the scallion into one bowl and the second 1/4 (green) into a separate bowl. Discard the remaining tips.
  4. Cut the ham into small pieces. Brine soaked pre-sliced ham, the type that is sold for sandwiches, has the texture best suited for the Wafu style.
  5. Shave the corn kernels into a bowl. Retail the cob.
  6. Fry the white scallion bits with1T of sesame oil in a pan. When the scallion begins to brown, add the shaved ham. Continue to stir fry for a minute. Mix 1 heaped t of miso with 1T sherry and add this to the pan followed by 1 cup of water. You now have a ham and scallion miso soup base.
  7. While the mixture is simmering, rinse 200g or orzo in boiling water and then add the orzo to the pan, followed by the corn kernels and mushroom. Scrape the cob with the back of a knife blade over the pan. Leave uncovered on a low simmer.
  8. In the meanwhile melt a large knob of butter in a second pan over high heat. When the butter browns add the scallops. Stir fry for thirty seconds and then turn off the heat. Immediately add a second large knob of butter to cool the pan.
  9. When the liquid in the first pan thickens, test the texture of the orzo. If it is still hard, add 1/4 cup of hot water and continue simmering. Repeat until the orzo is just right, then pour the scallops and butter into the pan and mix well.
  10. Spoon the orzo into your serving dishes. Dust with black pepper and garnish with the green scallion bits.

Notes

  • I suppose I should start off by explaining what the Japanese Wafu-style is. It translates as ‘Winds in Harmony’ and refers to the way the Japanese prepare Western dishes to suit local tastes. Its a style of cooking that developed gradually after WWII and has now become immensely popular in family restaurants in Japan. You could go as far as to say it is a type of fusion cuisine. Salad dressing containing soya sauce, yozu or sesame oil and mayonnaise containing wasabi are both examples of Wafu.   
  • One important aspect of Wafu cooking is it tends to be balanced with delicate flavours. If you want to stay true to the Wafu style, stay away from strong tasting ingredients like garlic, olive oil, bacon, blue cheese. A little cream is ok, but not too much. 
  • This is quite a flexible recipe and you can substitute a number of ingredients to create many different varieties of the pasta. You could for example swap the corn for baby asparagus (you might want to add a bit of sugar though), the shaved ham for smoked turkey or the scallop for clams.
  • The prime flavour for the sauce is Miso. For more information on Miso, refer to this page
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Spaghetti with Seafood in Miso Cream Sauce


(serves 3 full portions)
Spaghetti in Miso Cream is quite the quintessential Japanese pasta and is on the menu in family restaurant chains all over Japan. You will find the fusion-style dish a refreshing adaptation of the more traditional pasta sauces. This recipe is a special version of the dish with crustacean flavour infused into the miso cream. To accompany the pasta, I have used soft tender scallop slices and lightly cooked morsels of prawn.    
 

Ingredients Miso Pasta

  1. Scallops (8=150g)
  2. Large prawns (4=300g)
  3. Miso
  4. Crushed Garlic (4t)
  5. Sesame Oil (1/3 cup)
  6. Cream (100ml)
  7. Spaghetti (300g)
  8. Shredded Nori (Dried Seaweed)
  9. Coriander Seed Powder
  10. Honey
  11. Cognac

Preparation 

  1. Mix 4T of sesame oil with 0.5t salt, 1t coriander seed powder.
  2. Cut the heads off the prawns and stir fry the heads in a pot with a few dashes of oil and 2t of crushed garlic. Use a low flame and when the garlic begins to brown add 1.5 cups of water. Cut the heads up with a pair of scissors while they are in the pot and leave to simmer. You should end up with a rich red broth.
  3. Slice each scallop into 3 round slices.
  4. Shell and devein the prawns. Slice the prawns lengthwise into 2 and then into small pieces.
  5. Marinate both the scallop and prawn pieces with the salted sesame oil but in separate bowls.
  6. Mix together 2 heaped t of miso with 2t of crushed garlic. Fry this mixture in a pan with 3T of oil on low heat. After a minute, add 3T cognac and 1t honey.
  7. Slowly pour in 100 ml of cream and mash the miso till you get a nice even emulsion with no lumps. Pour in the prawn head stock through a strainer. Simmer down till you get a nice sauce and remove from heat.
  8. Put 300g of spaghetti into the pot of boiling water with 1t salt and a dash of oil.
  9. Reheat the sauce and when it is boiling add the prawn meat. When the prawn meat has curled, add the scallop slices and immediately turn off the fire. Mix well to make sure no scallop slices are stuck together and leave for a minute.
  10. By this time the pasta should be al dente. Strain and plate the spaghetti, and pour the sauce over it.
  11. Garnish with black pepper, some Nori and serve.

NotesPrawn Stock

  • If you want to go the extra mile, add Uni (raw sea urchin) together with the scallops into the pan in step 9. It is the Japanese equivalent of adding truffle shavings to a pasta.
  • The stock will not be red (see photo) or have a rich taste if you use small prawns or shrimp. The prawns have to be large, i.e. 4 per 300g. 
  • Most of the greyish stuff in the ‘spine’ of the prawn is roe. When deveining the prawn, you really only want to find and pull out the alimentary canal. 
  • You’ll notice I did not mention olive oil. The taste of miso is quite distinctive and will clash with the hint of olives. You’ll do better with a milder vegetable oil.
  • Reduce the amount of cream by half if you want a very light sauce.
  • For more information on Miso, refer to this page
 

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Baked Scallops on Pesto Gratin


(serves 5)
This is my take on the classic French dish, Coquilles Saint Jacques, with an Italian twist. I have devised a quick thrice-baked routine which makes the recipe extremely easy to execute. Scallops have a nice texture but it is hard to infuse flavour into them. One common way to given them additional layers of taste is to use a gratin. This is what I have done, using a simple breadcrumb mixture containing 3 complimentary flavours: garlic, pesto and parmesan.  

IngredientsBaked Scallops

  1. Large Scallops (500g)
  2. Bread (3 slices)
  3. Minced Garlic (3T)
  4. Pesto (3T)
  5. Parmesan (1T)
  6. Olive Oil (1/4 cup)

Preparation

  1. Leave 3 slices of bread in the open to dry overnight.
  2. Cut the crust off the bread and cube the bread into 1cm pieces. Cut the crust into small pieces as well, but separately. 
  3. Pad your scallops dry with a kitchen towel. Cut off the white sliver of flesh where the scallop attaches to the shell if the scallops do not already come processed this way.
  4. In a large mixing bowl mix 3T pesto, 3T minced garlic with 1/4 cup of olive oil.
  5. Spoon 2T of this mixture into the scallops. Add also a light sprinkle of salt and a heavier sprinkle of pepper. Mix well and leave to marinate.
  6. Preheat the oven to 200oC.
  7. Place the bread pieces on a casserole dish and bake in the oven. When the bread is crispy and dry, this will take 5 minutes, take it out of the oven, but leave the oven on.
  8. Allow the bread to cool for a short while on a cool plate. Then smash the bread in a plastic bag with a mallet to turn them into fine crumbs. Add the crumbs into the mixing bowl and sprinkle on 1T of powdered parmesan cheese. Mix well and then put the flavoured crumbs back into the casserole dish and back into the oven, this time for 8 minutes.
  9. When the gratin has formed, take the casserole dish out again, and immediately arrange the marinated scallops into the dish evenly. Spoon any left over marinade onto the scallops. This goes back into the oven for a further six 6 minutes or so, depending on the size of your scallops.
  10. Serve immediately, advising your guests to eat the scallops with the gratin.

Notes 3 Scallops

  • Your scallops should not be too small for this recipe. For 500g, there should be about 15 scallops. I usually just use frozen ones, the higher grade type that comes in a box, not a plastic bag.
  • Scallops should not be overdone. They are best when they have shrunk slightly. Look for the right moment and take them out of the oven immediately. If your scallops have shrunken noticeably, then they are overdone and will be tough and hard.
  • If you wish too, you can re-plate the scallops as shown here.
 
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Posted by on February 9, 2014 in A Kobi Original, Appetizers, French, Recipe, Seafood

 

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Two Colour Seafood Terrine


(serves 6 to 9)
This is a recipe for a cold semi-firm seafood terrine that is half red and half green. The use of canned lobster bisque and Nori (dried seaweed) sheets makes it much easier to get a full spectrum of seafood flavours while using just fish and prawn as you base ingredients. The lobster bisque is also used to make a lobster-shallot sauce that goes superbly with the terrine. Another nice touch is the use of brioche, which gives your terrine a nice buttery tone. The result, a juicy flavourful seafood terrine that everyone will enjoy.
 
Ingredients
  1. Sole Fillet (500g)
  2. Prawns (150g)
  3. Scallops (150g)
  4. Brioche (cubed, 2 cups)
  5. Cream (200ml)
  6. Lobster Bisque (1×400 ml can)
  7. Nori = Dried Seaweed (2 large sheets)
  8. Eggs (2)
  9. Shallots (9)
  10. Mayonnaise
  11. Butter
  12. Brandy
  13. Liquid Smoke
  14. Basil
  15. Dill Weed

Knife Work

  1. Spoon one heaping T of mayonnaise into a bowl so that it will be at room temperature by the time you need it.
  2. Cut each of your 9 shallots in half, peel them, then slice finely.
  3. Cut as much brioche as you need into small cubes until you get 2 cups full.
  4. Cut with scissors 2 large (like A4 paper sized) Nori sheets into confetti.
  5. Shell your prawns and dice them together with the sole fillet into pieces about the size of half a finger. Dust your seafood with salt and pepper from a shaker as if you were going to pan fry them.

Blending the Terrine

  1. In a pan, stir fry one third of the shallots in a dash of oil till they begin to brown. With the pan sizzling hot, add half the can of lobster bisque, 2T brandy and 1t basil. Let the mixture boil for 30 seconds and turn off the heat. Mix in 1 cup of brioche cubes. Allow to cool in a bowl.
  2. In the same pan(after washing it), stir fry another third of the shallots in the same way. This time add 200ml of cream, the Nori confetti, 2T liquid smoke. Let the mixture boil for 30 seconds and turn off the heat. Mix in 1 cup of brioche. Allow to cool in a second bowl.
  3. Place half the fish, half the prawns and an egg in a blender, then add the contents of the first bowl. It must be cool enough such that the egg doesn’t start cooking. Don’t liquidize it completely, just blend till you get a lumpy paste. Spoon the paste back into the bowl.
  4. Blend the rest of the fish and prawns with a second egg with the contents of the second bowl, using the same procedure.

Cooking the Terrine

  1. Line the inside of 6 ramekins with oversized pieces of clear cling film. Spoon the seafood paste from the two bowls into 6 ramekins as shown. Poke with the small end of a spoon to compact the paste and get rid of air pockets.
  2. When you are done, cover each ramekin with a second piece of smaller cling film and tuck the loose bits under the ramekin to seal everything up. The terrine will expand while it is cooking (although it will shrink back after that) so do not fill the ramekins too close to the brim.
  3. Set up your steaming rack in a pot with an inch of water and set it to boil. When the water is boiling. Arrange 3 ramekins within (see the picture below) and steam for half an hour on a low simmer. You can stack the other 3 ramekins on in an overlapping fashion if your pot is tall enough. If not, repeat with the second 3 ramekins.
  4. Allow the ramekins to cool and then chill them in the fridge with the clear film still attached. You can leave them in the fridge overnight.

Sauce 

  1. In the same pan(after washing it again), stir fry the remaining one third of the shallots in a few T of oil. This time you want to stir-fry on low heat until they are a nice deep brown.
  2. Pour in the remaining lobster bisque while the pan is sizzling, add 2T brandy, the warm mayonnaise, 1t dill weed and 1t sugar. Let it boil for 10 seconds and then set aside to cool. When it has cooled enough, spoon into a bowl and  chill this in the fridge as well.

Scallops

  1. Cut each scallop into half from the flat side, then slice them into thin semi-circular pieces.
  2. Melt a large knob of butter in the same pan (after washing it yet again) and then allow the pan to cool. Arrange the scallop pieces in the pan and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.
  3. Turn the heat on and cook without touching the scallops at all. The moment you see the scallops get opaque, which is very fast, turn off the fire. They cook fast and this is the best way to ensure each piece is cooked the same and done just right.

Putting It Together

  1. Remove the chilled terrine blocks from the ramekins and clear film and pat dry with kitchen towels.
  2. Slice any uneven bits (like a rounded bottom) off the biggest blocks and mash them up (in their separate colours) so you can use them as fillers later.
  3. Slice each circular block into 2 thinner blocks.
  4. Arrange on plates with the clean cut surface facing up. Fill in any gaps with your mashed bits.
  5. Spoon the sauce onto the plate, around but not on the terrine.
  6. Finally, arrange the scallop petals on the plate on top of the sauce.
  • The structure of seafood terrines
    Fish Terrine 1000

    Another terrine I made on another occasion.

    varies widely. Mine is a simple one with no solid bits but you can put chunks of any kind of seafood you like in yours. Just make sure they cut easily (i.e. nothing chewy like clams)

  • You can make the colours more vibrant if you wish. One option is to use salmon as the fish for the red part and add some blanched chopped spinach to the green part (see picture).
  • I used a stainless steel round form to divide the terrine into inner and outer layers. If you don’t have these in your kitchen, one option is to make a Swiss-roll by spreading a thick layer of fish paste on a suitably sized sheet of Nori, rolling it up and standing it up in the ramekin as the centre. You’ll get a nice spiral pattern as your core (see picture). You can also just dispense with appearances and use a simple left-right arrangement.
  • Traditionally terrine is made in one large loaf shaped block (see picture) but I found that it is much easier to steam ramekins. If you want to make a one loaf terrine, you’ll have to cook the terrine on a pan of water in the oven, and replace the cling film with the more cumbersome parchment paper or perhaps blanched spinach leaves.
 
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Posted by on August 3, 2013 in Appetizers, French, Japanese, Recipe, Seafood

 

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Red Seafood Risotto


(serves 4)
Its actually looks more orange than red, but this recipe uses crustacean heads, so that makes it a red risotto. Risotto is a dish that is conceptually simple, but difficult to master in practice. This particular risotto, which uses prawns, scallops and portobello as its core ingredients is one of my favouites.

Rather than describe how one type of risotto is made, I’ve decided to write this recipe in such a way that is becomes a generic guide to making risotto as well. So it looks like its very long, but actually it just contains many of the finer details which I usually gloss over.

IngredientsRed Risotto

  1. Tiger Prawns (6)
  2. Large Scallops (6)
  3. Arborio Rice (1 cup)
  4. Smoked Clams in oil (1 tin)
  5. Lobster Bisque (1/2 can)
  6. Onion (1)
  7. Portobello Mushrooms (2)
  8. Butter (50g)
  9. Chardonnay (½ cup)
  10. Pecorino Romano (1/4 cup)
  11. Cognac
  12. Coriander Powder

Preparation – Stock

  1. On medium heat, brown 1T of pressed garlic in 2T butter. Don’t use a non-stick pan as you’ll be scratching it later.
  2. Cut the heads of your prawns off while waiting for the garlic to brown, then stir fry the prawn heads in the garlic oil. When the heads have become completely red for a minute, pour in 1 cup of water.
  3. As the water boils, cut each head into three pieces using a large pair of kitchen scissors and then crush the heads with a wooden spatula, the type with a flat edge. Next decant the liquid through a strainer into a pot.
  4. Repeat another two times such that you end up with 3 cups of clear stock in the pot. Now add 1/2 a can of lobster bisque to complete the stock.
  • NEVER add salt to the stock as you will lose control of how salty the risotto is after the water has evaporated.
  • Commercially pre-made stock is pre-salted, making them unsuitable for risotto.

Preparation – Soffritto

  1. For the soffritto, you’ll need to use a non-stick pan i.e. a different one from the one used earlier. This will ensure that you won’t get a burnt taste from bits sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  2. Julienne the onion into pieces that are the size of rice grains and fry them in 4T of olive oil using low heat until they are limp. You should do this without caramelizing the onion. Adding a pinch of salt at the start will help keep the onion from browning.
  3. Stop here if you are preparing ahead of time, for this marks the point of no return. Once you begin the next stage, you’ll need to serve the risotto soon after it is done.
  • The onions will practically dissolve into the risotto. Many Italian recipes utilize this method, using aromatic vegetables and sometimes bacon bits, to arrive at a more complex and satisfying flavor.

Preparation – Simmer

  1. Turn up the heat on the pan and add the rice into the soffritto, stirring well to coat the kernels with oil. Continue to stir-fry for 5 minutes or so.
  2. Add the wine, and stir until it almost evaporates completely before adding a ladle of stock. After adding the stock, adjust down the heat to produce a low simmer.
  3. Each time, add just a ladle of stock, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. Add more stock each time the rice begins to dry out.
  4. In between stirring, de-shell and de-vein the prawn bodies and dice them, and dice the mushroom and scallops as well, into fingernail sized pieces. After simmering for 15 minutes, add the diced ingredients and smoked clams.
  5. Continue stirring and simmering the rice for about another 10 minutes until it is creamy and al dente, then turn off the fire.
  6. Total simmering time should have been about 30 minutes but rely on taste and appearance to decide if the risotto is done and not a timer.
  • NEVER add cold stock to risotto as repeated sudden cooling makes the rice powdery. So keep that stock on a simmer in a separate pot.
  • NEVER add all the stock at one go. You don’t know exactly how much stock you need and this takes away your control of the cooking time.
  • Constant stirring rubs off bits of the grains’ surface, giving the starch that creates a risotto’s characteristic creaminess.
  • Arborio is the standard rice type for risottos although the more expensive carnaroli rice is sometimes used. Carnaroli cooks faster and absorbs more liquid, which means it will have a stronger stock flavour.

Preparation – Mantecatura

  1. Cut a ¼ slab of butter into 1 cm cubes and mix with finely grated pecorino romano (or any other kind of hard cheese). This forms the mantecatura, which is stirred in as the finishing touch. For an extra creamy texture, you can cheat by stirring in 1T of marscapone as well. This is optional.
  2. Next, sprinkle on some black pepper, 1T of Coriander Powder, 2T of brandy and a ½ t of sugar. After tasting, you may add salt or more cheese as a final adjustment if necessary.
  • NEVER add salt before this stage, as the concentration of the stock increases flavour over time, and besides hard cheese is salty.
  • I prefer using pecorino romano as it is a stronger grating cheese which goes well with rice but other hard cheeses can be substituted if desired. Check out my Cheese Page for more details.

Resting

  1. Cover the pot and let the risotto rest for 5 minutes so that it can absorb a bit more liquid and fluff up.
  2. Garnish with a bit of coarsely grated pecorino romano as you serve.
  • This is the ONLY time you should cover it.
  • You cannot pre-make or re-heat risotto. So time it such that you can serve it immediately.
 
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Posted by on September 27, 2009 in Italian, Main Courses, Recipe, Seafood

 

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