Sunday, January 10, 2016

coquilles St. Jacques aux pleurotes

Voilà: my rendition of scallops with oyster mushrooms.

I regret that you can't see the lovely components of this dish with any distinctness. The three major players are (1) Costco diver scallops, (2) Korean oyster mushrooms, and (3) a wine-infused cream sauce. Herbs and aromatics include minced celery leaves and finely chopped green onions. I have to say: the smell, when this was cooking, was incredible. Even more interesting was that the dish was super-easy to prepare, and I started with scallops that had been frozen solid. That's perfect for a lazy cook like me. I hate thawing.

The closeup below will give you a chance to see at least one scallop up close. Too bad you can't see the lovely oyster mushrooms.

The mise en place didn't require much effort. Drag the scallops out of the freezer. Mince the celery leaves with meat scissors; do the same with the green onion. Leave on standby. Dump the frozen scallops into the deep pan; set heat on high, and pour in enough wine to cover the bottom of the pan a few millimeters. The wine will steam and boil quickly, which will allow you to pry the frozen scallops apart so that they lie flat in the pan.

Meanwhile, bring out the mushrooms. Cut off the tops, plus a little stem, to avoid putting the dirty bottoms into your dish. Dump straight into the pan with the scallops. Lower the heat to medium if the wine is boiling. Salt the scallops and shrooms; add black pepper. After the wine has boiled softly a couple minutes, add heavy cream. A lot. Enough to cover the scallops and shrooms. Lower heat a bit and let simmer. The scallops are probably still frozen at their center, but it's important not to overcook their exterior. No one likes leathery seafood.

Stir occasionally to prevent anything from burning on the bottom of the pan. In my case, I saw the cream sauce was way too thin, so I thickened it with an old method: adding bread crumbs. I had bought a bag of panko from the grocery in my building; I dumped two heaping handfuls of panko into the mix. While I allowed the bread to do its work, I grated an entire block of Gruyère cheese, then dumped that in as well. Once the grated cheese had melted into the mixture to create the consistency that the French call velouté (i.e., velvety), it was just a matter of stirring another few minutes at low heat. I tasted the sauce and one scallop: perfect. No need for searing. No need for butter or garlic. As it was, everything was as it should be.

The next step was to find a decent container in which to plate a serving of the coquilles. I didn't have anything like those oven-proof scallop-shaped dishes from the 70s, so I used a small, shallow cake pan, reasoning that I'd be using my oven's broiler instead of the bottom burner, so the thinness of the pan's metal wouldn't be a factor in potential burning. I set the oven for about 200ºC, ladled some creaminess into the pan, then added a layer of butter-toasted bread crumbs into the top. As you see in the pic, I pulled the serving out right when the bread was just this side of burning, but that wasn't tragic: the dark-brown bits added flavor, and they were easily mixed in with the lighter-brown bits of panko. The crunchy texture, when I scooped up a scallop with some cream sauce and those bread crumbs, reassured me that I had done the right thing by not searing the scallops. (Searing is tricky; the potential for overcooking is very high.)

It occurred to me, belatedly, that this was a decidedly Atkins-friendly dish. Heavy cream is, strangely enough, lower in carbs, per unit volume, than milk is. Had I made a crust of Gruyère instead of panko, the dish would have been perfect by Atkins's standards.

So now, the question is whether to pack up the rest of this for tomorrow's lunch. Yeah... might as well make the boss and coworker envious.



Bratfink said...

Oh lord, that looks fantastic!

Charles said...

Looks tasty.

"...avoid putting the dirty bottoms into your dish."

I always try to avoid putting dirty bottoms in my dishes, but thanks for the pro tip.