Mexican Hat Dance
A whisp of flour tortilla separates seared sea scallops from a savory black bean cake in this stacked appetizer. The dish is so named because of its lively ingredients and presentation, and also because the sea scallops dance about when they hit the hot pan. The bright flavors are not so assertive that they overwhelm the delicacy of the tender scallops. The black bean cake mixture and the chili cream may be prepared up to two days in advance and refrigerated, tightly covered. Fry the cakes over medium heat just prior to serving.
- Fresh sea scallops - 20 (if not fresh, they will stick to the pan)
- Black Bean Cakes
- Dried Black Beans - 1 cup
- Olive Oil - 3 tablespoons
- Carrot - 1, peeled and coarsely chopped
- Small onion - 1, chopped
- Garlic Cloves - 2, minced
- Bay Leaf - 1
- Balsamic Vinegar - 2 tablespoons
- Chicken Stock - 3-1/2 cups
- Dried bread crumbs - 1 cup
- Red Bell Pepper - 1/2, seeded, deribbed, and finely chopped
- Green Onions - 2, white part and 2 inches of green tops, finely chopped
- Fresh Parsley - 1 tablespoon, minced
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Chili Cream
- Dried red chilies - 1 small, stemmed, seeded, and torn into pieces
- Heavy (whipping) cream - 2 cups
- Flour for dredging
- Vegetable Oil - 2 tablespoons
- Flour tortillas - four, 6- or 8-inch
- Oil for coating tortillas
- Tomato - 1 large, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped
- Fresh Cilantro - 1 tablespoon, minced
- Chives - 8, about 6 inches long
- Red Onion - 1/2 cup finely diced
- Green Onions - 2, green tops sliced on the diagonal
Rinse the sea scallops and remove the hinged muscle from the side of each one. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
To make the black bean cake: Rinse the beans in a colander under cold running water, picking them over to discard any broken beans or pebbles. Place the beans in a large saucepan, cover, and bring the water to a boil over high heat. Boil for 1 minute, then remove from heat and let sit for 1 hour.
Heat the olive oil in a medium, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the carrot, onion, and garlic and saute over low heat, stirring often, for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the onion is translucent. Drain the beans and add them to the pan along with the bay leaf, stirring to coat. Add the vinegar and stock and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer the beans uncovered until tender, about 50 minutes to 1 hour. Do not let the liquid evaporate; add more stock if necessary.
Remove and discard the bay leaf. Puree 1/2 cup of the cooked beans in a blender or food processor and stir the puree into the beans in the pot. Let cool.
Combine the beans with the breadcrumbs, red pepper, green onions, and parsley; if the mixture is too loose to form patties, add more breadcrumbs. Season with salt and pepper. Form the beans into patties, cover, and refrigerate.
To make the chili cream: Place the chili and cream in a medium saucepan and simmer until reduced by half. Place the cream in a blender or food processor, puree until smooth, and strain through a fine-meshed sieve, pressing the solids with the back of a large spoon to extract s much liquid as possible. Cover and refrigerate the cream for at least one hour.
To cook the black bean cakes: Preheat the oven to 300 F. Dredge the black bean cakes lightly in flour. Heat the oil in a medium saute pan or skillet over medium-high heat and saute the bean cakes until golden brown and warmed through, about 3 minutes on each side. Transfer to the preheated oven and keep warm.
To cook the scallops: Place a dry large nonstick saute pan or skillet over high heat for 3 minutes. Pat the scallops dry with paper towels and place in the pan. Do not crowd the pan; cook the scallops in batches if necessary. Sear the scallops on one side for about 2 minutes, then turn them with tongs and cook for 2 minutes on the other side. While the scallops are cooking, lightly coat the tortillas with oil and toast them on a grill or in a 450 F oven.
To serve: Divide the chili cream among four plates. Place one bean cake on the cream on each, and top with a tortilla. Place 5 scallops evenly around the rim of each tortilla. Sprinkle the rim of each plate with the chopped tomato and cilantro. Garnish with two crossed chives. Divide the red onion among the plates and sprinkle each serving with green onions.