It is my firm belief that everyone should have at least one ace up their sleeves when it comes to cooking and entertaining. Everyone should have one show-stopping dish in their repertoire that they can whip up without a recipe, a dish so stunning and delectable that it changes people's perceptions of you, kind of like if you discovered that one of your oldest friends happened to be an expert in bowhunting — it's a skill that is rarely talked about or exhibited but, once discovered, changes things. That's the effect that your culinary ace should have on your guests.
Luckily, show-stopping doesn't have to equate difficult. You certainly don't have to construct a croquembouche to impress your guests (unless you're up for that challenge, of course); all you need is a star protein and some colorful produce. Come to think of it, that's always a reliable formula because it yields so many different permutations. The specific permutation I'd like to present here is scallop crudo.
"Crudo" is an Italian preparation for seafood and the word literally translates to "raw" in English. In other words, it's kind of like Italian sashimi or ceviche. Often times crudo is paired with citrus juices and oil to brighten and complement the fishy flavor. Because it's a raw preparation it can take as little as just 5 minutes to make, and that's what I'm all about: outstanding recipes for the time-constrained and fuss-averse.
My recipe is an adaptation of Chef Marcus Samuelsson's scallop crudo, which might sound intimidating because he is a culinary god, but believe me, it's easy. I also wanted to illustrate how easy it is to tweak a dish like this and play around with the plating by giving you three different presentations, each one as easy as the last. Because it’s raw and there’s no actual cooking involved, it’s just a matter of assembling the pieces.
All three of these presentations used the recipe below, but in the first presentation, instead of citrus juice, I used cucumber water that I strained and reserved from making my Cucumber and Orange Salad. It had a nice, clean cucumber flavor, a pretty light jade color, and was seasoned already like a light pickle juice.
Serves 2 to 4
½ lb large sea scallops, thinly sliced with a knife
Asian pear, thinly sliced into spears or julienned (you can adjust how many or few slices you add)
Cucumber, thinly sliced lengthwise with a mandoline (you can adjust how much to add)
Radish, thinly sliced with a mandoline (you can adjust how much to add)
¼ cup orange juice
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon corse sea salt
1 tablespoon dill sprigs
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
- Assemble 4 to 5 pieces of scallop along with the pear, cucumber, and radish onto each plate.
- Mix lemon juice and orange juice together and gently pour into the plate over the scallop and other ingredients.
Drizzle with olive oil, top with dill sprigs, and sprinkle with sea salt.
Adapted from Marcus Samuelsson.