Last Saturday was an “SiS.” Stay in Saturday. I like those kind of days because it means I get to cook and try new things. It’s been a while since we’ve had ceviche, so I headed to the market with the idea of getting “fixins” to make one, and see what else looked good for the rest of the dinner. I like to experiment with new things on these days, creating dishes based totally on what looked good in the market. As usual though, I made enough for 4, so…um…we ate twice (coughs)
Steamed in citrus juices with a pear cider reduction sauce
Gregor’s Pub Scallops
Large fresh scallops sautéed with bacon, topped with caramelized bananas and served with a coconut rum sauce
A squid and scallop ceviche with coconut and lychee
Roasted Asparagus Spears with Apple Wood Bacon
Roasted spears of fresh asparagus with julienned smoked bacon
Shopping list for 4:
2 pounds fresh Pacific Halibut filet, 2-2.5″ thick
6 pack of pear hard cider ( you can use an apple cider as well )
1 large pear
1 large apple, granny smith if available
1 large naval orange
1 small cucumber
2 ripe roma tomatoes
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
1 bunch cilantro
1 can heart of palm
1 almost ripe mango
2 sticks of butter
1 12 oz package Apple wood smoked bacon, non cured. I’m going to be nice here. It HAS to be this, nothing else works
10 large sea scallops, fresh
4-5 squid tubes, fresh
1 large banana
Coconut Rum, your choice
Unsweetened coconut flakes
1 can Lychee nuts, most markets have these.
1 bunch of asparagus. Get the smallest diameter possible.
Okay, this is really easy. Honest. First rinse off 2 of the scallops and do a nice dice. Don’t go really small, 1/4” cubes are fine. Do the same with the squid tubes, make sure you really rinse the tubes well. You want to get off all the “slime.” Put all into a small bowl or tupperware type container, cover with lime and lemon juice and place in the fridge. You are going to want the seafood to “cook” in the citrus for at least 2 hours, no more than 4. The scallops will turn opaque when done.
You can go ahead and dice the other ingredients now, just store them in the fridge in a different container. Dice into the same size cube as the scallops the mango, cucumber, tomatoes (seeded), scallions ( include the good parts of the green tips ), the peppers without seeds or the white pith, and 2-3 hearts of palm. Squeeze some lemon juice over the bunch, toss and refrigerate. Note: Make sure the mango is not quite ripe. You want it to be a little firm, you don’t want it to go to mush.
Right before serving, drain the seafood. It’s okay if some liquid remains, in fact you want a little. Toss into the container with the diced veggies and really mix it up. Take a good hand full of cilantro, chop it up, and add it along with a handful of the coconut. Add in 5-6 lychees, diced as all the other ingredients ( Add these last so as not to taint the flavors of the veggies) Drizzle a little coconut rum over the whole lot, salt and pepper to taste, and toss. Spoon this onto a red tipped lettuce leaf, or what ever lettuce you have, and garnish with some of the remaining coconut and a lime slice.
What we are going to do here is steam the Halibut Filets. The perfect way to do this is to wrap in a banana leaf. These are becoming hard to come by so, unless you have the good fortune to live close to a Pacific Rim grocer, the method works fine.
Preheat the oven to 375f. Take a small baking dish, like a Pyrex 9×6 or something similar. Take the apple and the orange and slice about 1/4” thick. Line the bottom of the dish with the slices, alternating as you go. Rinse, and pat dry the filet and place on top of the sliced fruit. Season with a good amount of salt and pepper. Pour in the pear cider until it just reaches the bottom of the filet. Cover with foil, making sure the foil does not touch the fish.
Place in the oven and plan to give it about 30-35 minutes, if you got the 2” filet. This way of cooking is very forgiving as the steam from the cider and fruit keeps the fish moist.
Dead simple this one. Note: You’ll want to do this first thing in the morning before dinner, or right after you get back from the market. Take a good bunch of thin stemmed asparagus. Now I know, you’ve all seen the snap method for finding where to trim. Do it that way if you have the time. Here’s a secret though. On good, thin (¼ to 1/2” thick) asparagus, just cut about 2” off the bottom. In fact, I usually cut just above the rubber band, making the ends easier to handle. Drop the bunch of asparagus cut side down into a coffee mug or something similar. Fill with seasoned water and refrigerate. I like to season the water with garlic salt and a little lemon juice. The asparagus will drink up some of the water, seasoning them from this inside. I kid you not, if you give them at least 8 hours in the water, you will taste the difference.
When you are ready to roast, take out the asparagus, pat dry, and place on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and roll around to coat them all. Season with pepper, then drape 4-5 slices of uncooked apple wood smoked bacon over them. These can go into the same oven as the fish, but they only need about 30 minutes.
Rinse and dry the remaining 8 scallops, salt and pepper both sides. In a small fry pan, render the fat out of 4-5 slices. This means, just cook over medium heat so the bacon doesn’t burn, and you get as much fat out as possible. Set aside the bacon when done. Increase the heat to medium high, and when at temp., put in the scallops. You want to get a nice golden brown on them, but do not over cook. Most sea scallops only need 2-3 minutes a side. Remove from the pan, set on a plate, cover with a towel, and set on the back of the stove to keep warm.
Pear Cider Reduction Sauce
Now we need to make the reduction sauce. Take the same pan you just cooked the scallops in and deglaze with a full bottle (12 oz) of the pear cider. Make sure you scrape the bottom of the pan to get all the good little bits. Lower the heat to medium low, and let it reduce. Dice up the bacon into small bits and add to the sauce. You want about a ½ reduction here so increase the heat if need be. Right before serving, whisk in 2-3 tbsp’s of butter. This will give the sauce a wonderful shine. Do not be tempted to salt or pepper the sauce, it got plenty from the scallops.
Coconut rum/Banana sauce
Okay if you are doing all these dishes together, make sure the fish is done, put the over on warm, and place the scallops in the oven next to the asparagus. All staying nice and warm.
To start the sauce, melt ½ stick of butter in a small fry pan. Peel and slice the banana into 8 pieces, all the same thickness. When the butter is just starting to brown a little, but the sliced banana in and cook for no more than 30 seconds a side. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add a good splash of coconut rum to the pan and let it flash off a bit. Note: When ever you add alcohol to a hot pan, remove that pan from the heat, tilt slightly away from you and slowly add the liquid. Return the pan to heat and allow it to flash. This will allow the liquid to flash without splashing. Turn the burner to low.
Putting it together
Now the fun part. Take the fish out of the baking dish and remove the skin. Cut it into 4 pieces and place on dinner plate. Take 2 scallops and place on each plate close to the fish. Top each scallop with a slice of the banana. Add some of the asparagus to the plate with a small piece of bacon for garnish. I think it’s important to garnish with part of what’s in the dish. It lets the diner know what’s coming. Finally plate the Ceviche on a chilled salad plate using red tipped lettuce leaves if possible. Garnish as per the recipe above. Finally, take some of the pear reduction and spoon over the fish. Garnish with thin sliced pear. Spoon some of the coconut rum sauce over the scallops and sprinkle a little coconut on top. And viola! A lovely dinner party for 4 ( or…ahem…2).
Lots of options here, but you don’t want to go with a sweet wine. I’d go with a very cold Sauvignon Blanc, or Pinot Blanc. The ultimate though would be to go with Brut Champagne. The driest you can find. The combination of the dry champagne and bubbles with the scallops would be exceptional.
As always, any questions or comments, please feel free to ask.