Pan Seared Scallops with Yuzu Kosho Sauce & Mango-Papaya-Peach Chutney

Posted by johngl

I’m starting this post with a picture:

Pan Seared Scallops with Yuzu Kosho and Mango-Peach-Papaya Chutney

Its the colors, man. I dig the colors.

The inspiration for this dish came right out of January 2011 Top 100 issue of Saveur featuring chefs’ favorite choices of tools, ingredients, restaurants, and a bunch of other stuff I don’t feel like typing.

The inspiration: Number 84.

Well, not specifically the number 84 (which may be inspirational — if you’re high), but selection number 84 out of the top 100: Yuzu Kosho.

According to Tadashi Ono, of Matsuri in NYC, Yuzu Kosho is a paste made of three ingredients: salt, hot pepper, and yuzu. Yuzu is an exceptionally tangy Japanese citrus. And I just happened to have a jar of yuzu juice in my pantry.  What luck!

Rather than running around the Texas countryside trying to find a prepared Yuzu Kosho, I decided to make my own — of sorts.  I had some guajillo pepper powder and I obviously had some salt, so I took a couple of tablespoons of the guajillo powder, a pinch of salt and a splash of yuzu juice and mixed em all up.

Chives and Yuzu Kosho (my version)

That’s the red stuff in the picture.  The green thingy is a chive. I didn’t have any scallions but I do have boatloads of chives growing out back. It was an easy substitution.

I should explain a bit better. Let’s see here…oh yeah, a vinaigrette of olive oil, chives, yuzu juice (instead of vinegar) with a yuzo kosho kicker was what I was shootin’ fer.

Anyway, I dumped several tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a pan, added the chives, added a couple of splashes of soy sauce (Tamari actually), brought all that to a sizzle, then turned down the heat and added in the homemade yuzu kosho.

It looked like this:

Olive oil, yuzu kosho, and scallions

I knew I was onto something when the olive oil started to turn orange.

After a few minutes of steeping, I strained out the solids.

Getting ready for my guajillo vinaigrette

All I had to do was whisk in some more yuzu juice to make the vinaigrette.

The guajillo peppers have a rich fruity taste and don’t score too high on the Scoville Scale: 2500-5000 (by comparison, a jalapeño can push 10,000 units), so they’re perfect for sauces; they have deep flavors and won’t blow out your taste buds with heat.

So, with the sauce mostly out of the way, I’ll move on to the chutney part of the show.

I chopped up some mango chunks and peach chunks…

Mango and Peach

and tossed them into a bowl.  I didn’t have any papayas around, but I did have a jar of Chilean Mountain Papaya!

Chilean Mountain Papaya

These aren’t those monster-sized orange-colored things.  These are little yellow buggers about the size of a small mango.  Anyway, I chopped some up and threw it in.

Now with Papaya!

The green flecks are some mint leaves I chopped up and threw in.  Also, a chutney wouldn’t be a chutney without some heat, so I tossed in a dash or two of pequin powder (chile pequin peppers go up to 75,000 Scoville units, so it doesn’t take much to get things piquant). Oh yeah, I drizzled in some vodka to loosen up the flavors a bit and, sticking with the theme, a splash of yuzu juice went in as well.

I stirred this up and popped it in the fridge to macerate a while (you macerate fruits and marinade meats — which definitely shouldn’t be confused with masticating or that other thing you did a lot of as a teenager — we’ll be masticating here in few minutes, so keep your pants on).

Where was I?

Oh. Scallops!

Seared Scallops

I’ll run through the searing process right quick:

Use a good quality, heavy bottomed pan.

Make sure your scallops are very cold yet thawed, DRY (and I can’t stress this enough), and lightly salted. Use a paper towel to dry each one, then quickly salt them all at once.

Make sure your pan is smokin’ HOT (I can’t stress this enough either) and has enough high-heat oil (like grapeseed or safflower) to cover the bottom of the pan evenly.

Lay those dry scallops, salted side down in this screaming hot oil.  If any oil spatter gets on you, you’ll know why I say it is screaming hot.

Leave them alone for a minute.  DO NOT FUSS WITH THE SCALLOPS. The browning will start to peek out and move up the side a bit.

Flip them (carefully) and TURN OFF THE HEAT. If you are using an electric range, remove the pan from the burner. They’ll finish out in the pan

By following these quick and easy steps (the whole searing process takes about 3-4 minutes, tops), you’ll be well on your way to scallop nirvana.

Begin plating immediately!

Fish those macerated fruits out of the fridge and put them in a ring mold in the center of a plate.

Ring molded fruit

Finish out the vinaigrette with a splash of yuzu juice giving it a quick whisk then drizzling it around the ring mold.

Add garnish, remove mold

Add a mint garnish and remove the ring mold.  The juices will get all psychedelic looking.

Add those nice, piping hot, freshly seared scallops!

Plated and ready for dining

Make sure you have some wine poured. We enjoyed one of these:

White Bordeaux

I’m not going to type all of that, just look at the picture.

This is a reasonably priced offering that brings a nice, crisp element to the party. It’s a blend of Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Mucadelle and aged in 100% new oak. It’s a great fit for seafood dishes.

Take a sip of wine, let it roll around on your tongue, give it some air, now swallow. Now, look at those scallops again.  Dig the colors. Eat.

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