Scallop Sauté with Miso Sauce
Updated: Mar 10, 2021
"What a sad era when it is easier to smash an atom than a prejudice."
Albert Einstein (1879-1955)
I don't think I could ever invent a dish like this, a fusion of East meets West. In fact, I was slightly sceptical it could possibly be that nice, but I was so wrong, it's fabulous. All too often "fusion" transpires to be little other than over-ambitious confusion, but no so in this recipe from "Harumi's Japanese Cooking", by Harumi Kurihara.
The countless times you will see a contestant on "Masterchef" who claims to have presented some fusion masterpiece turn out to be judged not as someone trying to run before they can walk, but as someone trying the triple-jump before they can stand, naturally engenders a certain suspicion towards the whole principle of fusion cuisine. But this, to me, is what it is at its best, with experience and judgement on full display with considered selection and balancing of seldom-combined ingredients.
Creamy and salty, savoury, umami scallops reflected in the sauce, watercress and mustard for the wasabi spike, and sharpness in the wine and mirin are a more likely-to-win combination with the benefit of hindsight, but it's the foresight that is the mark of the genius. I was tempted to omit the Parmesan but I wouldn't dream of it having tried it.
This is an unusual and very pleasing starter.
When I mention umami, it's in this recipe in spades - miso, soy, garlic, mustard and Parmesan deliver the weight of satisfaction they would be expected to. In fact the first time I made this I thought it was almost too much, but I'm won over now, because the flavour of the scallops is simply not compromised. I suppose the sauce could be thinned a little with a bit more water but I haven't been tempted to do that yet.
Scallop Sauté with Miso Sauce
Ingredients (Serves 2)
10-12 scallops, white part only, approximately 150g
Sunflower or vegetable oil
1 small garlic clove, crushed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Plain flour, a little for dusting
1 tbsp white wine
1 tbsp miso paste
½ tbsp mirin
1 tsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp water (or more as required)
1 tsp grain mustard
1 tbsp double cream
2 tsp grated Parmesan, or quantity to taste
Separate the leaves from the stalks of the watercress, lay the leaves on a serving plate and finely chop the stalks for the garnish.
Combine the wine, miso, mirin, soy sauce and water in a bowl and whisk together, for the sauce.
Heat the oil in a frying pan to medium-hot. Coat the scallops with the crushed garlic, season with the salt and pepper and dust with a little flour. Sear them for about 45 seconds per side until lightly golden on the outside but still rare in the middle. Remove from the pan.
Add the sauce ingredients and as soon as it bubbles turn out the heat and stir in the grain mustard and double cream. If the sauce is a little thick a splash more water can be added at this stage.
Arrange the scallops over the watercress leaves, pour over the hot sauce and then garnish with the chopped watercress stalks. Finally scatter the Parmesan over and serve immediately.
"Harumi's Japanese Cooking", Harumi Kurihara (2004), pp. 31: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Japanese-Cooking-Harumi-Kurihara/dp/1840915013