If you asked me to list my five favorite dishes in Salt Lake, ZY Restaurant’s scallops dish would certainly be on the list. Chef Matt said today that he strives to make dishes that diners regularly crave, and this dish fits the bill. Perfectly cooked scallops resting on a bed of almond romesco and drizzled with a red wine reduction and curry-infused oil. I haven’t forgotten this dish since I first had it last year.
Craving would be an apt description.
I was thrilled to hear that ZY was putting on a lunchtime class where Chef Matt would demonstrate how to make their signature dishes. Matt explained that there are only two dishes that have remained on the menu throughout their entire first year of being open: the scallops and tender pecan pork. When he first opened he had a lot of people ask him what his signature dishes are. He said he couldn’t answer that–the customers decide what the signature dishes are–and these two have remained extremely popular.
Attend a class that unlocks the secret to these dishes, and then be treated to lunch afterwards? Sign me up!
General Manager Miles Broadhead and Chef Matt Lake
I’ll share some tips that Chef Matt shared with us.
-Whenever possible, get “dry” scallops instead of “wet” scallops. Wet scallops have been treated with a chemical (sodium tripolyphosphate) to help them retain their moisture. Wet scallops are extremely difficult to sear due to the high water content–and a good sear is key with this dish. Talk to your local fish guy and ask them if they sell dry scallops. Chef Matt said that Whole Foods and Harmon’s does, but they might not be found in other grocery stores. Of course, Aquarius downtown would be an excellent source as well.
-Don’t overcook your scallops. They should be warmed throughout, but not overcooked. Put them in a very hot pan and by the time the scallops have a good sear on both sides, they’re ready to go.
-Whenever possible, use Kosher salt in your cooking. Sea salt is a great finishing salt, but doesn’t dissolve well, and iodized salt is, well, iodized salt. Matt uses Kosher mainly because it dissolves so well during the cooking process.
-Never, ever use bottled lemon juice. Lemons are cheap and plentiful, and fresh juice makes a huge difference in the overall taste of your dish.
-For the red wine reduction, use a red wine that you would drink (meaning not too crummy), but it doesn’t have to be top-shelf, either.
-You can make the red wine reduction ahead of time and then seal it in an airtight container and keep in the fridge. It can last up to a month if sealed properly and makes for a great finishing sauce.
-You can use a high-quality curry powder from the store, but Matt also likes to go to the Indian markets where you can make your own special curry powder blend. Don’t be afraid to experiment and play around with the ingredients.
-Chef Matt also shared a unique way to make infused oils. Fill a sterilized mason jar with oil, and then put whatever spices you want to infuse the oil with in with it (curry, rosemary, thyme, etc). Seal, and place outside in direct sunlight. On a hot day the sun will gently heat the oil to around 120 degrees and will begin to be infused with the spices. Once infused (taste to know when), filter the oil through cheesecloth and store the oil in a cool, dry place. It’s the fancy-pants take on sun tea.
Matt was a great instructor and even sent us home with the recipes! The scallops recipe is posted below, with permission.
Oh, also, Miles, the general manager, said that they plan to hold these classes quarterly, with the next class on December 1st. If you want to be put on their newsletter to be sure you don’t miss a class, call the restaurant at (801) 779-4730. You can also find ZY on Facebook and Twitter.
Scallops with Almond Romesco, Curry Oil, and Red Wine Reduction
Tender Pecan Pork (I’ll be posting this recipe later)
Scallops with almond, curry, and red wine reduction.
Yield 4 portions
12 ea. U12 dry sea scallops
Fresh black pepper, ground
2 cups blanched, slivered almonds (don’t use roasted)
1 bunch flat leaf parsley
1 clove peeled garlic
Juice of one lemon
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
Bread crumbs (approx 1 cup–don’t use panko)
In a food processor combine the nuts, garlic, and parsley. Blend till coarse ground and add the lemon juice. Slowly add in the olive oil and puree to a loose pesto consistency. Remove the mixture from the bowl and place in a clean mixing bowl. Slowly stir in the bread crumbs to lightly bind the mixture. Season with salt and set aside. May be made up to two days in advance and stored in the refrigerator. Bring up to room temperature before serving.
Red Wine Reduction
3 cups red wine of medium body
¼ cup raw sugar
Place the wine and sugar in a small sauce pan. Reduce until light syrup consistency (when reduced about 2/3 of initial volume).
1 tbsp yellow curry powder
2 cups grape seed oil
Combine the curry powder and oil in a small sauce pan. Heat on low heat until aroma from the curry develops (or use the “sun tea” method above)
Sear the scallops in a hot pan with a little oil until golden brown. Season with salt and pepper, flip, and repeat. When the scallops are just warmed through, remove from heat. Place the almond romesco in the middle of the plate, top with the scallops, drizzle a little of the curry oil and red wine reduction around the scallops. Serve.