Scallops and Arugula with Parma Ham and Potato
Chef Gahabka uses sea scallops for this exotic global appetizer and wraps them in tangy arugula, Parma ham from Italy, and Boniato originally from Central America--but now popular from Vietnam to the Caribbean. The Boniato is also known as Batata, Camote, Cuban Sweet Potato and White Sweet Potato. It's available, year round, in Latin grocery stores. Its white flesh has the texture and slight sweetness of a chestnut--nothing like our Louisiana sweet potato. But it does have a high starch content which the chef takes advantage of in wrapping. Some tips: Substitute a large russet potato, not a sweet potato, for the boniato. And slice it paper thin. The chef uses the #5 dial on his slicer. If you don't have a French mandoline, the inexpensive Japanese plastic and metal slicers do an excellent job. The chef finishes the dish with a star fruit (also known as carambola) vinaigrette and garnish. Available from August to February, carambolas may be sweet or quite tart in flavor. If you buy tart carambolas, you may want to sprinkle them with sugar before sauteeing them for the garnish.
- Sea Scallops - 4, large
- Cumin Oil - 1-2 tablespoons, (recipe follows)
- Fresh Cilantro - chopped, as needed
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Canola oil - as needed
- Arugula Leaves - 16, or 1 2-ounce package
- Italian Parma ham - 4 paper thin slices
- Boniato - 16 paper thin slices, peeled, or russet potato
- Clarified butter - as needed (see cooking Basics)
- Mixed baby greens - 4 cups, or mesclun mix
- Star Fruit - 2, sliced crosswise into 1/2-inch slices
- Star Fruit Vinaigrette - (recipe follows)
- Edible pansies - (optional garnish)
- Cumin Oil (Makes about 1-1/2 cups)
- Ground Cumin - 3 tablespoons
- Canola oil - 1-1/2 cups
- Star Fruit Vinaigrette
- Star fruits - 2
- Balsamic Vinegar - 2 tablespoons
- Cinnamon Oil (recipe note above) - 1 tablespoon
- Olive Oil - 3 to 4 tablespoons
- Pineapple Mint Leaves - 1 tablespoon, chopped
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
In a flat soup bowl or plate large enough to hold scallops in a single layer, sprinkle with cumin oil, chopped cilantro and season lightly with salt and freshly ground pepper. Toss scallops to coat and let marinate for 15 minutes. In a medium skillet filmed with canola oil, sear scallops on both sides over high heat. Refrigerate scallops. Place arugula leaves in a sieve and blanch in lightly salted boiling water for 10 seconds. Plunge into ice water; drain and turn out on paper toweling. Wrap each scallop completely in arugula leaves, about four large leaves for each scallop or more if leaves are smaller. Then wrap a strip of Parma ham, cut to fit the width of a scallop, once around a scallop. Now lay two slices of boniato on the work surface with ends overlapping, Press to seal the starchy ends together. Wrap boniato once around the scallop-arugula-Parma bundle tightly. Lay out two additional slices of boniato in the same manner, press to seal ends, and wrap around the scallop tightly in the other direction. Repeat for all scallops.
In a medium skillet, heat clarified butter over medium heat. Lower heat and saute scallops bundles slowly, browning on all surfaces. While scallops are browning, in a separate skillet, quickly saute star fruit slices in oil or clarified butter to brown, turning once. Lay on paper toweling.
To serve: Place one cup of mixed baby greens or mesclun mix in the center of four salad plates. Top with one scallop bundle. Garnish with two slices of sauteed star fruit. Drizzle with Star Fruit vinaigrette. Garnish, if desired, with an edible pansy.
In a small saucepan, whisk together cumin and oil. Heat slowly over low to medium heat, stirring occasionally to prevent burning, for 20 minutes. Remove pan from stove. Let oil cool to room temperature as particles settle. Pour oil with as little sediment as possible through a paper coffee filter into a glass jar. Seal with a lid and store filtered oil refrigerated, covered, for 1 month.
To make Cinnamon Oil, follow recipe for Cumin Oil, substituting ground cinnamon for cumin.
Star Fruit Vinaigrette
Chop star fruit and puree in a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Place star fruit puree in a non-reactive bowl. Whisk in balsamic vinegar; whisk in cinnamon oil, whisk in olive oil, adjusting amount to taste. Add mint and salt and pepper. The vinaigrette should be intensely seasoned.