Foodiva's Kitchen: Warm (Faux) Scallop Salad with Corn, Persimmon and Basil

Friday, August 10, 2012

Warm (Faux) Scallop Salad with Corn, Persimmon and Basil

I’ll continue to climb trying to reach the top…but no one knows where the top is.
~Jiro Ono, world's greatest sushi chef

I was watching the inspirational documentary/movie, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, about 85 year-old Jiro Ono, the first 3-Michelin star sushi chef in the world and owner of a 10-seat restaurant located in a Tokyo subway. This is a beautiful, thoughtful and engrossing movie of his life but what's amazing about it is the humbling lesson I took away from Jiro. As brilliant as he is, he has never lost track of his craft and is always striving to do better. 


In this day and age, many of us creatives on the other hand, tend to get caught up in social media and all of the other time wasters that technology has brought us (yes, I'm guilty too!) and then we forget the very reason why we're doing what we're doing in the first place. So I've decided, from now on, I am not going to forget. I've come such a long way from 2 years ago when I couldn't cook zilch to now, and will continue to push boundaries with my cooking. Let me tell you something, this is actually very easy to do when you don't know very much to start with and are not limited by rules. The story of my life...


Well, I don't know where my vegan journey will eventually take me but I'm willing to jump in at the deep end and see how far I can make things work by being extra creative in the kitchen. Like for this week's French Fridays with Dorie's assignment, for example, Warm Scallop Salad with Corn, Nectarine and Basil. It's a beautiful assortment of fresh, raw and minimally seared ingredients tossed together to make an exotic salad.


Not so long ago, when I ate seafood, I rarely ate scallops. Now that I'm trying to give it up entirely, I struggle to recall what scallop tasted like and had to think what ingredient I could possibly use to substitute it with. Those giant oyster mushrooms would be a good choice, except that I couldn't find any. Firm tofu is also suitable, but I'm bored of eating so much tofu lately. Then it came to me....eggplant!


Yes, I simply cut out scallop-shaped eggplant pieces with a round cookie cutter, marinated them in a mixture of miso paste and aren syrup that helped with the caramelization process during searing. Maple syrup would be a good one to use for this purpose as well, as it adds a bit of sweetness to the saltiness of the miso and earthiness of the eggplant.

I had persimmon on hand and since it had a very similar texture to nectarine, I used that instead. The persimmon was already sweet, so I didn't bother searing it but left it raw. I actually missed out reading Dorie's instructions about grilling the fruit, but you didn't think I was going to admit that, did you? :) I was concerned that there may be too many sweet elements in my salad - persimmon, eggplant scallop and the sweet corn. But I worried needlessly, because the tangy chili lime dressing and fresh basil coulis balanced this salad out quite beautifully.


Dorie was right in saying that the exotic star of this dish was the raw corn. I absolutely adore raw corn and eat it in many dishes and desserts. However, my other shining ingredient here has got to be the eggplant scallop. It might not have had the exact scent of the sea, but it was close enough in texture and appearance that I'm happy to imagine it was the real deal. It really is worth checking out how the other Doristas interpreted this recipe here.


Have a lovely and fun-filled weekend, everyone!

26 comments:

Trix said...

Okay, I clearly have a lot of catching up to do here. When did you become vegan?? I missed that. And what are you going to do at next year's cow butchering? Eek! I totally agree about not letting social media distract you from the task at hand. I not-so-secretly despise Twitter, but I try to play along sometimes. Enough about me! This is a genius sub for scallops, and I was fooled at first glance. I think this must be a delicious dish in its own right, regardless of what the veg is subbing for. You go, girl! xoxo
ps - I think you make the most colorful and interesting vegan food I have ever seen.

Cher Rockwell said...

I agree that the raw sweet corn was a show stealer, but I agree with Trix that your scallop sub was insanely genius.
I like how you constantly push the boundaries.

Gina said...

I adore raw corn too, but I'm lucky it's grows down the street from me and I'm a regular at the stand. I find it hard to believe you weren't a great cook before. I don't waste my time with social media, it's just a bunch of people spamming each other anyways, lol. I thought those were scallops. I was thinking of you today when I was baking muffins. Keep on pushing those boundaries.
-Gina-

Maya Mohd said...

Trixiebella, lol, you must've blinked and missed it! It has only been a month (or maybe two) and really, I'm still in a transition period - it's so hard mentally. I'm going to give the butchering a miss this year, in fact that hardcore post of last year's has already been banished to oblivion. I just can't stomach the thought of that anymore :(. But this is an exciting journey for me, I have very talented vegan mentors and what I've cooked up here is nothing compared to their exquisite creations! I'm really happy to share my newfound knowledge with you all <3

Maya Mohd said...

Cher, I'm just happy I pulled off this scallop stunt! On that positive note, I feel so blessed that the stars have aligned for me for the next 3 FFWD recipes...they're vegetarian. Yay! Thank you as always girl, you rock ;)

Maya Mohd said...

Gina, corn just down the street, baking muffins and being able to cook like, forever...is there anything in your life that I'm not envious about? Nope, not much! Thank you my dear friend for your constant love and support. And now, that muffin post better be up on your site because I'm heading right over there! (next time, make me vegan ones...please?) :)

Guyla said...

I'm with Trix. I missed you becoming vegan! Your salad looks wonderful, so creative!

Cakelaw said...

Full marks for creativity - the eggplant substitution for the scallop is terrific.

Marina@Picnic at Marina said...

I would prefer this dish over many others. It looks fantastic! :)

Geraldine Saucier said...

What a fantastic idea substituting an eggplant for scallops! I loved the raw corn also. A terrific dish. Have a great weekend:)

Maggie said...

You totally fooled me! When you said you made it vegan I was like "But the scallops....." The eggplant is a great look-alike! Beautiful photos as always and good for you with the whole vegan thing! I'm looking forward to your posts and seeing your take on these recipes!

Susan said...

What a wonderful variation. Beautiful plating, too!

Diane Balch said...

The closest I ever came to vegan was being Macrobiotic no dairy or meat, but you eat fish. Japanese vegetarianism. You might want to try your faux scallops with tofu or mochi next time.

Gerry @Foodness Gracious said...

Wow, you made me have to look twice at those eggallops...Fantastic idea and good luck on your vegan tour ;)

Amy Andrews said...

Beautiful creation -- you have inspired me to get back to my beloved French Fridays. First your awesome eggplant "scallops", then your positive & creative attitude, then Jiro Dreams of Sushi, a DVD I just received and can not wait to watch! Weee! Thank you and I'll see you soon here at FFwD, if not today, certainly next week.

acookingmizer said...

I love your eggplant scallop! :) and use of persimmons!

yummychunklet said...

Love your use of persimmons! Wonderful plating as well.

Teresa said...

Great idea to sub eggplant for the scallop. Your plate looks lovely, as always, too. Do you remember Kelly from http://veganthyme.blogspot.ca/ who started out with us at the beginning of French Fridays? She has some great vegan recipes on her blog, too.

Trevor Sis Boom said...

Well your scallop stunt really was masterful. Us carnivore's will miss you but with much more smarty stunts like this I will go vegan now and then. Great job!

Jora said...

The eggplant really does look just like scallops in the picture - I'm so impressed! I might copy you the next time I make this recipe. I love eggplant, and it's so much more affordable.

Mary Hirsch said...

You put me to shame, Maya, because I didn't make this week's recipe choice. Several years ago I got very sick on scallops and we have never been friends since. Instead I made Salt!!!!! Your eggplant scallop was genius and I appreciate the idea. Because I liked the ingredients in the salad itself, I hated to give it up. Now I don't have to. Thank you.

dulceshome.com said...

Your dish looks delish! I can never get over how beautifully arranged your food is. And you always add an interesting twist to things. Terrific!!

Spicie Foodie said...

Hi Maya,
It's hard to believe that there was ever a time when you didn't cook. Your talent and eye for creativity and cooking is so admirable. Keep going and I know you'll reach the Vegan Zen place. Besides with food like these faux scallops your journey will be an easy one. I love love the dish Maya!

Betsy said...

Hi Maya! Your faux scallops are a real trompe d'oeil. Your creativity never stops. Looking forward to seeing what else you come up with on your new journey.

Andrea_TheKitchenLioness said...

Maya, fantastic ideas, as usual - your presentation is beautiful and I, again, applaud your creativity! So well done!

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