Sunday, January 6, 2013

Seared Scallop Arancini Cake with Pesto Aioli and Truffle Oil

I'm not a big left over guy. It's bad. I'm terrible at packing a lunch and taking it to work with me. Sometimes I'll make extra of certain foods to have left overs, but more often than not, I'll make just enough for what I am going to eat at that time. It's a bad habit that I'd like to break.

The idea for this dish came to me while discussing how to use some leftover risotto with my girlfriend. While talking on the phone, I said to her, "I'm getting sick of always making arancini (cheese stuffed deep fried risotto balls). Then while thinking out loud I said to her, "You know what would be great? An arancini cake instead of balls, and serve it with a scallop on top." I know I'm on to something good when she agrees with me right away.

This is a very tasty dish that has many different flavours but also many different textures. You'd be proud to serve it your guests, or to just eat a bunch of it yourself. Either way you'll feel like a chef at a fine dining restaurant.

Seared Scallop on a Arancini Cake with Pesto Aioli and Truffle Oil

2 cups of left over risotto, chilled in the fridge overnight
1 cup of panko bread crumbs
2 eggs
Splash of milk
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

Make the arancini cake first. With the left over risotto, form some small patties about 3 inches in diameter and about 1/4 inch thick. When making risotto the for this dish the day before, it's best to make it a little extra creamy. If it is too dry, the patties won't hold together very well and they will be difficult to work with.

In a bowl, lightly beat the 2 eggs with the splash of milk. Dip the pattie in the egg and make sure it is fully coated with the egg mixture.

In a separate bowl, place the panko bread crumbs (feel free to add some flavour here with parmesan cheese, parsley, salt and pepper. You can also some heat with cayenne pepper or smoked paprika). Coat the pattie entirely with the bread crumbs. 

Repeat this process until you have as many cakes as you need. If you are serving it as an appetizer, 1 cake per person is suffice.

In a pan, pour in a generous amount of olive oil and fry the cakes until they are golden brown, Carefully flip them over and fry them on the other side. Store them on a cookie sheet in a 200 degree oven to keep them warm.

Aioli is a fancy word for mayo. Don't let it scare you. You can easily add some flavour to the mayo that is in your fridge. If you happen to have a jar of pesto, just add a tablespoon of pesto per tablespoon of mayo. If you don't have it you can add pretty much anything you want to it to change the flavour profile that it brings. Lemon aioli is always delicious and goes great with this dish. All you have to do is grate in some lemon zest to the mayo and mix it together. If you have some salsa you can use that. Other things that work well include dijon mustard, relish, and even plain old ketchup. The sky is the limit. Use your imagination. Just make sure to have this done in advance so it'll be ready to go when it is time to plate the dish.

You can however make your own aioli at home. It is surprisingly easy and it tastes way better than any mayo you will ever buy in a store. Here is how you do it.

2 Egg Yolks
1/4 cup Dijon Mustard
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
1 Garlic Clove (chopped)
3/4 to 1 cup Vegetable or Canola Oil

In a food processor or blender, add the eggs, dijon mustard, chopped garlic and lemon juice. Turn on the processor or blender and in a slow and steady stream add the oil until the aioli becomes the desired thickness. You will probably add about 3/4 to 1 cup of oil. It is crucial that you add the oil very slowly so that it emulsifies. If you add it all at once or too quick, it will not work. You can also do this by hand with a whisk in a bowl if you don't have a food processor or a blender.
1 big scallop per person (biggest count size you can find 10/40 is ideal. I used 17/20 this time)
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

In a nice hot pan, add enough olive oil to just coat the bottom. Season your scallops with salt and pepper on both sides before putting them in the pan. Add your scallops and cook for about 1 minute per side. Becareful not to overcook the scallops. There is nothing worse that a rubbery scallop. The scallop should have a nice brownish crust on both sides. When you see that, you know it is done.

- Take the arancini cakes out of the oven where they have been keeping warm and plate them.
- Spread a heaping tablespoon of the aioli on top of the arancini cake.
- Place the scallop on top of the aioli
- Drizzle a little bit of truffle oil on top of the scallop. A little bit of this goes a long way. If you don't have truffle oil use olive oil. (You should add some truffle oil to your pantry if you don't have it. It is expensive, but worth it. It can really add a nice dynamic to certain dishes.)
- Garnish the dish with some fresh parsley, cilantro or pea shoots on top of the scallop and serve

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