Monday, July 28, 2008

Seared Scallops with Corn Cream and Macque Choux

Last Thursday evening, we attended Crescent City Cooking with a Focus on Seafood at Central Market cooking school. The class was taught by Susan Spicer who is Chef of Bayonna and Herbsaint in New Orleans. Her self-described style of French-inspired, eclectic cooking was demonstrated in four courses. Spinach salad with pan-sauteed Gulf oysters, a soup and sandwich course of shrimp and tomato bisque with a seared tuna muffaletta, a duo of fish course of cornmeal crusted catfish over a red bean puree and a pecan crusted red snapper with a citrus butter sauce, and last, mint julep ice cream. I left the class very happy and inspired. Bean puree as a sauce for fish! Keep the shrimp flavor subtle in bisque and add just a hint of anise from Herbsaint or Pernod! Cook over lower heat when using a nut crust on fish fillets so it doesn’t burn!

Armed with a signed copy of Crescent City Cooking: Unforgettable Recipes from Susan Spicer's New Orleans and the desire to keep eating food like what we sampled in the class, I set out to create one of her dishes at home over the weekend. That dish was Seared Scallops with Corn Cream and Macque Choux. Spicer explains that macque choux is a Cajun version of Yankee succotash made with corn kernels, diced tomatoes, and green onion.

Now, Kurt likes to point out that, due to my Illinois upbringing, I’m a sucker for fresh corn. He’s from Illinois too, but I really love fresh corn (and popcorn and cornmeal and polenta and grits). I can tell good fresh corn from so-so fresh corn and several levels of ok-ness in the middle. Small-kerneled, crunchy white corn can be the very best there is, but big, juicy yellow kernels are undeniably addictive. But, even if you only moderately like corn, like normal people, you will really like this dish. It was in the category of I can’t believe I made this it’s so good.

Corn freshly cut from the cob is briefly cooked in butter and a small amount of water. Then, it’s pureed in a blender and should be poured through a sieve into simmering cream. I didn’t sieve it because I wanted all the corn goodness I could get. The texture was still very smooth and silky despite having skipped the sieving. The corn cream is pooled on a plate, the macque choux is piled in the center, the scallops are nestled about the center pile, and pan drippings from the searing are dribbled about the composition. It was unbelievable how simple this preparation was in relation to its deliciousness. 1:5,000. I think this new book and I are going to be spending a lot of time together in the kitchen.


5 comments:

  1. wow
    i gotta make this
    totally beautiful

    and i was thinking of you used browned butter? even sexier!

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  2. Browned butter would be fantastic here. Next time!

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  3. I live in New Orleans, and I love the food at Herbsaint. Those scallops look like they're cooked perfectly btw.

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  4. I need to visit New Orleans again--so much great food.

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