It has once again been over a month of no updates. But I had an exam yesterday. And May was extremely busy for me – I had two presentations and also finished my legal clinic in Brussels in environmental law. One of the issues I had to deal with was how to allow the installation of a hydroelectric plant in the vicinity of Natura 2000 areas. Apparently this one god damn fish, Rhodeus Amarus (European Bitterling), which enjoys protection under the EU Habitats Directive, could block the whole installation of the plant. Comes out it actually has a growing tendency to become an invasive species, therefore demonstrating that EU Directives are not always up to date with recent scientific data. Speaking of fish, to make up for more than a month of blogging, I have three pescetarian dishes to share with you. First up – scallops.
Gratinated scallops. I know it is normally not the first choice for cooking scallops, because there is a risk of overcooking them and perhaps presentation-wise they also don’t look the best. I also really like scallops on butternut squash purée with bacon crumble and some chervil oil, but in this recipe the main ingredients besides the scallops are following:
Bird’s eye chili, garlic and ginger. Crush them in a mortar with pestle to make a paste, and make mayonnaise with it. I normally make mayo with hand blender in a tight-fitting cup – it is almost foolproof. At the same time, put the oven on grill-mode and maximum heat – this way you ensure that main heat comes from the top and caramelizes the mayo without overcooking scallops. However, before you put the chili-ginger-garlic mayo over the scallops, caramelize them, as seen on the first photo. After frying them on high heat for about a minute on each side (I had big plump scallops) and before you nest them in the shell, allow them to rest in order to release some liquid (as with burgers). Otherwise you will end up with a soggy mess. Then place three scallops into the shell, top it with the mayo, and put it in the oven for about 3 to 5 minutes so that the end result would look similar to this:
I added a sprinkle of piment d`Esplette to finish. The flavours really work with one another.
Moving on to another dish: salmon tartare. But not that easy. I quick-cured the salmon in Guérande salt, anise seeds and splashes of vodka. Splashed some straight into my mouth too.
The anise seed taste really shines through and I strongly recommend to try to make gravadlax with anise seeds – it is something else. Since the curing does most of the job taste-wise, you should be very minimalistic when it comes to condiments – I only added red onion and some parsley. Chop it up, rather sloppily, and mix it together. Plate.
Served with some horseradish sour-cream and trout roe for the grandeur. I hope it goes without saying for the 73rd time that this dish is best served with vodka. Very sofishticated.
Finally, I have a small project on my hand and I have been a bit busy with menu developments. As it is a summer project, I had to think light, easy & Belgian. And what do Belgians love? Bread. Therefore:
Prawn roll. Or a shrimpwich if you will, as one of my comrades called it. Sweet prawns in a buttered and toasted brioche, some curly endive to add mild bitterness. And to keep things simple, I made lemon-garlic aioli and a sprinkle of chives. Next time I will add a dash of paprika for the colour and taste.
In a world full of food perversions (think ramen burgers, seafood in cheese sauce, or the ultimate horror – pineapple on a pizza), you wouldn’t change a classic, would you?