The Musette: scallops, cauliflower and curry oil
It’s been so long since we’ve had friends around for dinner that I wanted to push the boat out a bit. Yes, we’ve had picnics and apèros, but no proper dinners. This scallop recipe comes straight from one of my favourite chefs, Raymond Blanc. I’ve found that if you follow his recipes to the letter, the dish looks exactly like his, or at least pretty damm close. Even better, it’s a recipe where some elements can be made ahead of time. For example, the cauliflower purée can be made the day before, and the curry oil can be made up to a week ahead.
Ingredients (serves 4)
- 12 hand-dived large scallops in shell, cleaned and coral removed
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- good squeeze lime juice
- 2 tbsp curry oil (below)
- 2 tsp madras curry powder
- 200ml extra virgin olive oil, warmed
- 2 lemongrass stalks, bruised and finely-chopped
- 4 kaffir lime leaves, finely-sliced
- 1 lime, grated zest and juiced
- 100g unsalted or vegan butter
- 500g (1lb) cauliflower, cut into small florets
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 500ml whole or plant-based milk
- 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
Seared cauliflower slices
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 32 fine slices cauliflower slices (approx. 400g)
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 40g mixed baby salad leaves
- 4 tsp curry oil (from above)
- few finely chopped chives
1.In a small frying pan (skillet) over a medium heat, toast the curry powder for 5 minutes then add to the warm olive oil with the lemongrass, lime leaves and lime zest. Note: bruising the lemongrass with the back of a large knife draws out the natural oils, intensifying its aromatic flavour and making the curry oil more flavoursome.
2. Stir and set aside to infuse in a warm place for 1 hour. Strain the oil through a fine sieve into a bowl and add the salt and lime juice. Cover and set aside until needed or refrigerate for up to a week.
3. In a large saucepan, melt 50g butter over a medium heat and gently sweat the cauliflower for 3 minutes, seasoning with the salt. By gently sweating vegetables you convert the natural starches into sugars, sweetening them and maximising their flavour.
4. Add the milk, bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes until tender. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cauliflower to a blender and purée with just enough of the cooking liquor to make it really smooth.
5. In another pan, heat the remaining 50g butter to the beurre noisette stage. The butter will start to foam at approximately 130°C, turning a hazelnut colour at 150–155°C; the required beurre noisette stage. Don’t go beyond this point as it will be burnt! If you’re using vegan butter, just melt it.
6. Stir into the cauliflower purée with the lemon juice, then check the seasoning; keep warm.
7. This is where Raymond and I diverge. He only cooks the cauliflower on one side I do it on both. Heat the olive oil in a medium frying pan (skillet) over a medium heat, then add the cauliflower slices and sear either for 1 minute on one side only until golden brown (half raw with a wonderful crunch) or 1 minute on both sides. Transfer to a warm plate, season with a pinch of salt, and keep warm.
8. Carefully extract the scallops from their shells.
9. Do this step just before you’re ready to cook the scallops.Season the scallops with the salt. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-based frying pan (skillet) over a medium heat. Add the scallops, flat side down, and sear for 90 seconds until golden brown, then turn the scallops over and continue to cook for further 30 seconds. I place the scallops in the pan in a clock-wise direction making it easier to turn them within the required time. There’s nothing worse than rubbery, overcooked scallops.
10. Searing the scallops slowly will release their natural sugars, promoting a golden brown crust. Be sure to regulate the temperature of the pan; too high and the scallops will over-caramelise and burn; too low and they will release their juices but not caramelise at all. Remove the pan from the heat and de-glaze with a good squeeze of lime juice and 2 tbsp of the curry oil.
11. Transfer the scallops and the juices to a warm plate while you plate up. Speed is of the essence here.
12. Artfully smear a large spoonful of cauliflower purée on each plate and arrange the three scallops. Lay the caramelised cauliflower around the outside of the plate and drizzle the de-glazed pan juices over using a teaspoon. Garnish with baby salad leaves, curry oil, chopped chives, et voilà!
If you’re wondering what to do with the corals can I suggest sweating them in butter them with a bit of chopped shallot and finely diced chorizo. My beloved husband loves these served on sourdough toast for a lavish teatime treat.