Sunday, April 18, 2010

Grilled sea scallops and broccolini over miso soba noodles

Having lived in Indonesia for three years and Thailand for four, I've been thoroughly and irreversibly exposed to the glory of Asian cuisines. It's comfort food to me - "the kids" in my neck of the woods gathered at the local hole in the wall (literally - I don't mean kind of a crappy place, I mean often there would just be a wall with a hole in it for a table and a hot skillet on a cart piled with food) to drink Heinekens and eat Thai street food, as opposed to the diners and pizza joints "the kids" gathered at over here. Pad thai always makes me feel good in a way mac and cheese never will, and I'm okay with that.

The problem is that I can never make it nearly as good as they do. I mean, I don't even come close. My local Thai restaurant will always have my business because their grapow is a potent, juicy dark brown, and no matter how many recipes I try, mine is pale, dry, and sad (much like this ferang's legs after that crazy winter). So, while I often do make dishes with an Asian slant, I usually don't attempt the classics - that's what the phone is for. Call it in and pick it up (well, send Allan). And as long as it isn't supposed to taste like something I know, I'm always up to try a recipe.

Originally this recipe called for asparagus, but I've got that slated for a Jamie Oliver recipe later this week so I substituted broccolini. It worked marvelously - it always reminds me of morning glory, which is pretty hard to get a hold of in the states due to it being a Federal Noxious Weed and all (... if you've got a source, hook me up!). Out of the garden, I could have used green beans, zucchini, even just sauteed chard or greens.

Finally, if you've never had soba noodles before, allow me to introduce you.

They come in these super cute little 2-serving bundles within the package. Love those efficient Japanese - why can't we do that with spaghetti?! I always make too much. Anyway, if you can't find them in your Megamart, they'll definitely be at your Asian market. You do know where your local Asian market is, don't you? You'll also find the miso paste there.

This was a tasty, quick, healthy recipe but I will make a couple of tweaks to the miso sauce next time. One, I will add a pinch of red chili flakes or squirt of chili paste for a little heat. Two, I will add some very finely sliced scallions. And three, I will add half a tablespoon or so of peanut butter. Then, it will be just right. Actually, I might add some fresh cilantro, too. Mmm.

1/2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp miso paste (any kind)
1 tbsp sake or dry white wine
1 tbsp mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine, should be available at your Megamart)
1/2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
2 tsp ginger, microplaned (you want the ginger and garlic as fine as possible, since we're not cooking the sauce)
1 small garlic clove, microplaned
(Do you want to add chili flakes, scallions, peanut butter, or cilantro? I think you should!)

1 bunch soba noodles

1 bunch broccolini

12 sea scallops (approximately 2/3 lb)

Set a pot of salted water to boil and preheat your grill pan on medium.

In a bowl, whisk together the sugar, miso paste, sake or wine, mirin, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and anything else you want to add to your miso sauce until smooth. Give it a taste, and season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper as needed.

Rinse and pat dry your scallops. Place them in a small bowl and sprinkle on a pinch of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, then mix in a little of your miso sauce. Let them marinate at room temperature while you get everything else together.

Cook your soba noodles according to the package directions. When they're done, allow them to drain thoroughly and then toss with the rest of your miso sauce.

Meanwhile, trim and rinse your broccolini, then toss with a drizzle of vegetable oil, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Lay them out in your grill pan (or in large non-stick skillet with a little vegetable oil) and until they become bright green and brown in places, tossing occasionally, about 5 minutes. You want tender crisp, not mushy. Remove from the pan and set aside. Then, add your scallops. Let them cook for about 2 minutes on one side, then flip and let them cook another 2 minutes or so. Plate up a bed of noodles, arranging your scallops on top and your broccolini on the side.

Serves 2, takes half an hour, tops.

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