Monday, January 28, 2008

Warm Scallops and Tatsoi "Salad" with Mustard Vinegarette

Tatsoi, also known as spinach mustard, spoon cabbage or Chinese flat cabbage, has dark green, oval leaves, with a lighter-tinged stem. It looks a bit similiar to baby Bok Choy (no surprise, it's also in the same family as bok choy, mizuna, and rapini), but it looks much more full and lush. It's often used for salad or sandwich greens, but is always great sauteed with garlic or wilted. And just like all those other healthy green veggies, tatsoi is full of vitamins A and C, calcium and folate.

I much prefer vegetables like Bok Choy cooked to take away some bitterness, so I took the same route when adapting Gourmet's Tatsoi and Warm Scallop salad to more of a standard meat/vegetable/starch dinner. This meal amazed both AB and me as well as confirmed that locally grown produce IS that much superior to what you buy in the grocery store.

The Gourmet recipe mixes seared scallops with tatsoi, avocado, and spicy pecan praline with a light mustard almost vinegarette. I left out the pecan praline because there was just so much going on already (plus I ate half the container from Whole Foods while cooking). The next time I try this, I may crush the pecan praline and mix it with the dipping flour used to coat the scallops to give the scallops even more of a crispy texture on the outside.

Most of the reviews on the Gourmet website suggest using spinach as a substitute for tatsoi. While this is surely tasty, I'd advise using baby bok choy or bok choy instead to give it that slightly bitter/mustardy flavor.

Warm Scallops and Tatsoi "Salad" with Mustard Vinegarette

3/4 pound sea scallops
1 T all-purpose flour
1 t sea salt
1 t ground cumin
1/2 t cayenne
1 T unsalted butter
2 T olive oil
3 t fresh lemon juice
3 t extra-virgin olive oil
1 t Dijon mustard
1 large firm-ripe avocado, sliced
7 cups tatsoi (thick, spoon-shaped Asian greens), baby spinach, baby boki choy or bok choy quickly blanched and immersed in cold water (to stop from cooking)

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, wash the tatsoi very thoroughly. Quickly blanch the tatsoi (no more than 30 seconds), then rinse with cold water to stop the cooking and to keep the vegetable crunch.

2. Rinse and pat dry scallops. Combine flour, sea salt, cumin and cayenne pepper in a small bowl or dish. Lightly coat the top and bottom of the scallops in the flour mixture.

3. Heat the butter and olive oil in a pan over medium high. Cook the scallops on both sides until golden brown.

4. In a medium size bowl, whisk lemon juice , extra-virgin olive oil, mustard, and salt and pepper to taste until emulsified.

5. Assemble the dish, putting the tatsoi on the bottom, then scallops, and finally topped with avocado. Drizzle the mustard sauce over the dish.

Adapted from Gourmet's Tatsoi and Warm Scallop Salad with Spiced Pecan Praline

Coming Up Next: Broccoli Romanesco (aka space age broccoli)

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