Every couple of months, we visit the kitchen of a top Vancouver chef and get the scoop on an easy but impressive recipe from his catalogue. Today, we consult with Todd Howard, executive chef at CinCin Ristorante + Bar, who tells us how to prepare a classic dish from Sicily sure to impress your date — and leave you time to tidy the kitchen before she arrives.
Currently on the menu at CinCin, Howard says the Grilled Scallops, Roasted Cauliflower, Golden Sultanas and Toasted Almonds has been a popular choice among diners. “We’re lucky around here — Qualicum Bay has some pretty tasty scallops,” Howard says, adding that they are currently not harvesting, but that the restaurant always tries to buy local. Howard suggests heading to the fishmongers on Granville Island to get your main ingredient. “Try to use fresh scallops and get the bigger ones. The quality of ingredients is very important.”
Grilled Scallops, Roasted Cauliflower, Golden Sultanas and Toasted Almonds
Add a kick to this recipe with chorizo sausage
1/4 pound unsalted butter
12 large sea scallops (60 grams/2 oz, 3 per person)
1 head cauliflower, cut into small florets
30 grams grape tomatoes (cut in half)
20 grams Italian capers
20 grams slivered almonds, toasted
20 grams golden sultanas, soaked in hot water
100 mL brown butter
15 mL white wine vinegar
10 grams parsley
Good finishing olive oil
Optional: 2 chorizo sausages cut into ½ inch rectangles (12 pieces total, 3 pieces per person)
To brown butter:
Preheat a barbecue, or grill pan to medium-high heat. Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Continue cooking it on medium-high heat until the butter boils and begins to brown. Don’t worry if your butter bubbles or foams; just keep cooking it. When the butter begins to brown, you will see specks of darker brown develop at the bottom of the pan. Stir these up and cook until the butter has a nice and even dark honey colour. Remove from heat, strain through a fine sieve and put into a heat-resistant container.
Heat a large sauté pan with some olive oil on high heat. Add the cauliflower florets and roast on high heat until they are a golden brown colour. Take out of the pan and set aside.
If you choose to add the chorizo, grill on both sides, about 1 minute per side.
Season the scallops and give each side cross-hatch grill marks, about 1-2 minutes per side.
While the scallops are cooking, re-heat the cauliflower, tomatoes, capers, almonds and sultanas in brown butter. De-glaze the pan with the white wine vinegar; this will become the sauce. Finish with chopped parsley and salt and pepper if needed.
Divide the scallops (and chorizo, if so inclined) on the plates and top with cauliflower mixture. Finish with a drizzle of good quality olive oil.
Howard suggests pairing the dish with a crisp, fruity wine like La Segreta Bianco from Planeta winery in Sicily, which he recently visited.
Image courtesy of jordanmit09.