Thursday, March 1, 2012

Spaghetti di Nero with Butter Poached Sea Scallop and Thai Red Curry

Gosh, when I'm not cooking new foods or blogging, a lot more time gets freed up during my day.  It's nice.  I was channel surfing last night and came across the season finale of Top Chef Texas.  One of the dishes was a squid ink pasta with prawn crudo.  It looked to die for.  So today, I was on the hunt for squid ink pasta.  I've only eaten it out in restaurants, so I'm not sure if the dried packaged version will be as rich and flavorful.  But it sure is a lot easier than finding squid ink and making my own.  Maybe someday I will make it happen.  I did find myself feeling a little more energized having a cooking project today.  I felt more focused and less lost in the worries of the day.


For the spaghetti, I purchased a package of Rustichella d'Abruzzo Spaghetti di Nero, Squid Ink.  Cook the pasta according to package directions, in this case about 8 minutes in salted water.  Do this right before you are ready to serve.  
Then, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil over low heat, add 2 garlic cloves, finely minced.  Slowly cook the garlic until it is translucent. Drain the pasta and toss it in the olive oil with a pinch of kosher salt.


For the Butter Poached Sea Scallop:
In Thomas Keller's French Laundry cookbook, he talks about the many uses of Beurre Monte, his workhorse sauce.  He says that they use it to poach lobster, baste meats, rest cooked meats, and make sauces.  I mean a perfectly cooked steak passing through a butter bath before serving?  Sounds like love.
Beurre monte is made with just a little bit of water, about 1 tablespoon, brought to a boil and then over low heat, chunks of unsalted butter are whisked in, bit by bit to emulsify.  With just the one tablespoon of water, you can add a few tablespoons or pounds of butter.  When you normally heat butter, it separates into the butter fat and the milk solids.  Using just the bit of water and then adding the butter will keep it from separating.  
I made mine with 8 oz of butter.  Keep the heat low and consistent to maintain the emulsification.  
To poach the scallops, bring them out of the refrigerator and dry them well.  Let them come to room temp before poaching.  Set them in a single layer in a pan and add the beurre monte.  Set the pan over low heat and poach the scallops until just warmed through... almost rare on the inside, and just cooked on the outside, about 5 minutes.  Make sure the heat is low enough that the butter does not boil.
With the left over beurre monte after poaching the scallops, I made it into clarified butter and into the fridge it went for another use.


For the Thai Red Curry Sauce:

5.6 oz can of unsweetened coconut milk
1 1/2 tsp Thai red curry paste
4 fresh kaffir lime leaves
2/3 tsp fish sauce

Combine the coconut milk and kaffir lime leaves and bring to a simmer for a couple of minutes. Then add the curry paste and fish sauce.  If you find the sauce is too thick, add a bit of water.

Serve the pasta with the scallop on top, drizzle just a bit of the red curry sauce, finish with some toasted shaved coconut and daikon radish sprouts.  I was a bit disappointed with the pasta itself.  It had good texture and color, but was lacking in the flavor of the squid ink.  I will have to pursue some squid ink to make my own fresh pasta.  The scallop was, well, buttery.  Silky and tender.  Butter bath for all!




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