Friday, May 20, 2011
Is it snooty to define a dish as "deconstructed"?
I was feeling very creative earlier this week and I wanted to make something unique in concept but familiar in flavor. I am a huge fan of a good gazpacho, so I decided to make seared scallops with deconstructed gazpacho. A deconstructed dish is when you take all of the ingredients of a dish, separate or change them in cooking, and compose a plate. Usually a full bite of a deconstructed dish will taste like the original dish concept, despite the broken up nature of the ingredients.
I wanted to try this with gazpacho. A standard gazpacho is made of tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, bread, garlic, cilantro and often avocado either in the soup or on top. I took all of the ingredients and mixed them up, creating an inventive dish that tasted like a simple yet delicious gazpacho soup.
To start, I finely chopped the tomato, cucumber, onion, and cilantro, and mixed them with a splash of red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, lime juice, and some sugar. This was the base flavor of my gazpacho and was more of a tomato cucumber salad.
I then took a roll, cut off the crust, and put it in a food processor to make bread crumbs. I also thinly sliced a few garlic cloves. While I was making my bread crumbs, I heated canola oil on medium in a shallow pot. Once the oil was hot, I put in one slice of garlic to make sure it was hot enough, and then put in the rest, stirring a bit so the garlic didn't stick together. After about a minute or two, the garlic was brown and I removed it to a bowl lined with paper towel.
I then put the bread crumbs in the oil, frying until golden. To remove them, I held a fine sieve over an empty tomato can, and poured the crumbs and oil through. This gave me a receptacle for the oil and made sure I got all of the bread crumbs. I added these to the paper towel lined bowl and tossed with some salt.
I then pureed an avocado with some lime and salt, adding a little water to make it smooth. The result was a bright green paste.
Finally, I had patted the scallops dry with paper towel and sprinkled them with salt and pepper. I heated my cast iron pan until it was nearly smoking, added some olive and butter, moving the butter around so it didn't burn, and added the scallops. The key to perfect scallops is to put them in the pan and leave them in place for about 3-4 minutes. They should be golden brown when you flip them to finish them off for another 3 minutes.
To plate the dish, I spooned some avocado in the center of the plate, spread it down the middle of the plate with the back of a spoon and spooned some of the tomato cucumber salad in the "bowl" made of avocado paste.
I then placed the carmelized scallops around the avocado bowl, and sprinkled the garlic and breadcrumbs over the whole thing along with some cilantro.
The final dish was really delicious, possibly one of the most inventive and flavorful I've ever made. The presentation was beautiful, and each bite had a personality of its own between the balance of crunch from the breadcrumbs, sweetness from the scallops, and tang from the tomatoes and cuke salad. On top of it, the dish really was not that difficult to make!
Ingredients: .5 medium red onion, 1 vine ripe tomato, .5 cuke, 3 garlic cloves, 1 Portuguese roll, 4 scallops per person, 1 bunch cilantro, 1 avocado, 1 lime, 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon sugar, 2 cups canola oil, 1 tablespoon olive oil, .5 tablespoon butter, salt and pepper to taste