Friday, April 8, 2011

Seared Sea Scallops on Cilantro Chila with Fenugreek Brandy Creme and Cardamom Purple Yam Rouille

Delicious modern Indian cuisine!
     Scallops go well with a wide variety of accompaniments.  The flavors of the sauces and the chila pancakes in this recipe are very nice with scallops!
     Fenugreek has a very nice mild maple flavor that is nice in a cream sauce.  Chila are Indian pancakes that are made with gram flour (chickpea flour).  Cilantro is a commonly used Indian herb.  These little chila are the size of a Russian blini.  Chila pancakes have a very light and fluffy texture, yet they are very filling.  Gram flour is naturally gluten free.

     A rouille is a rich accompaniment that is usually served with bouillabaisse.  A true classic rouille for bouillabaisse is made with potato or bread crumbs, garlic, red chile peppers, olive oil and lion fish liver.  There also is a rouille that is made like an aioli.  Potato rouille is made with potato that is cooked to a soft starchy state.  Potato rouille is a rich full bodied sauce.
     Lion fish liver is a very strong neurotoxin that can kill a human being in 25 minutes.  An expert master chef only uses a tiny amount of lion fish liver in a rouille recipe.  The lion fish toxin is the same neurotoxin that is found in fugu (puffer fish).  Fugu liver is the second strongest animal toxin that there is!  A proper amount of lion fish liver in a bouillabaisse rouille will cause a mild pleasant tingling sensation on every nerve ending in your body.  The wrong amount of lion fish liver will cause death!
     Lion fish toxin coma is the same as the blow dust toxin that is used in voodoo rituals to create the living dead zombies.  This is fact, not science fiction!  Puffer fish liver is the main ingredient in voodoo dust.  A correct amount of the puffer fish toxin in voodoo dust will cause a death like coma for a few days.  People in a deep coma have been buried alive in graves while under the influence of this toxin, only to be resurrected a few days later by a voodoo priest.
     Needless to say, lion fish liver is not an ingredient that an inexperienced chef should be playing around with!  There is no lion fish liver in this rouille recipe just like most modern rouille recipes.  Some imported French pre-made spicy red rouille does contain the lion fish liver.
     What is funny to me is that I used to swim and wade in tropical gulf waters that were loaded with lion fish!  I actually used to gently tease and play with tropical wild lion fish in the shallow tropical beach waters, until I was told that the sting from a lion fish fin spine can cause death in 25 minutes!  After that, I just stayed out of the water when lion fish were sighted.  It is interesting how being gentle, causes fish to become docile and playful.  Innocence or luck, it does not matter.  I was flirting with danger!
     Many modern chefs have changed the rules of rouille recipes to be more creative.  I learned how to make rouille from an Austrian born French chef who worked in a resort on the island of Barbados in the caribbean.  This French chef preferred to make his rouille with potatoes.  The chef used very little garlic or red chile pepper to flavor his variety of rouille recipes and sometimes he used none at all.  He said to me "This is modern French caribbean cooking.  The rules have changed!"  I liked what the chef said and I knew what he meant by that statement!
     Rouille can be textured like a mayonnaise, but better French chefs prefer their rouille to have more body.  To me, a good rouille is like a medium bodied starchy shiny paste.  A thick rouille will hold its shape when pressed out of a plastic squeeze bottle.  A thick rouille is a very nice sauce for "painting" plates!
     Purple yam is very popular in the Philippines, Hawaii, Malaysia and asia.  Purple yam is usually dried and ground into a powder.  In the Philippines, purple yam powder is used to make some very interesting cakes!  The flavor of purple yam is like a nice sweet white yam.  Purple yam powder can be found in most asian markets.  Fresh purple yam is easy to find in Las Vegas, because there is a large Filipino and Hawaiian population.
     If you look into the health benefits of cardamom and fenugreek, then you will see that this recipe has medicinal value.  When using cardamom, do not add too much!  A little pinch of ground cardamom goes a long way.
     Cardamom Purple Yam Rouille:
     Gently boil 1 1/4 cups of water over medium/medium low heat in a small sauce pot.
     Add 1 crushed whole garlic clove.
     Add 1/2 of Thai chile pepper.
     Boil the liquid for 10 minutes.
     Strain the liquid into a bowl and discard the garlic and chile pepper.
     Return the infused water to a sauce pot over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of ground cardamom.
     Add 4 tablespoons of powdered purple yam, while stirring with a whisk.
     Gently boil till the liquid starts to thicken.
     Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of vegetable oil.
     Add 1 tablespoon of cream.
     Simmer and reduce the rouille gently, till it becomes a thick smooth texture.  Stir occasionally.  This rouille should be a thick sauce consistency!
     Place the rouille into a plastic squeeze bottle.
     Keep the rouille warm on a stove top.
     Fenugreek Brandy Creme:
     Heat a small sauce pot over medium low heat.
     Add 1/4 cup of water.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of ground fenugreek.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper.
     Stir and simmer the fenugreek as it reconstitutes.
     When the water is reduced to a small amount, add 2 ounces of brandy.
     Simmer for 1 minute.
     Add 1/2 cup of cream.
     Simmer and reduce the sauce, while whisking occasionally, till it becomes a medium sauce consistency.
     Set the Fenugreek brandy creme aside and keep it warm.
     Cilantro Chila:
     Place about 1/3 of a cup of chickpea flour (Gram) in a small mixing bowl.
     Add just enough water while stirring to form a thick paste.
     Add 1 teaspoon of sugar.
     Add 3 pinches of baking powder.
     Add 1 pinch of baking soda.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 10 chopped cilantro leaves.
     Add a little bit of milk at a time while whisking, till a medium consistency batter is formed.  The batter should easily coat the back of a spoon and it should look like pancake batter.
     Heat a non-stick saute pan or griddle over medium/medium low heat.
     Brush the pan with melted unsalted butter.
     Use a spoon to pour the batter into the pan.  About 1 1/2 tablespoos of the chila batter is enough to make a silver dollar size pancake.
     Make 6 small chila pancakes.
     Let the pancakes cook firm on the bottom half, before flipping them.
     The chila pancakes should have light golden highlights when they are fully cooked.
     Set the chila pancakes aside and keep them warm on a stove top.
     Seared Sea Scallop:
     Season 2 large sea scallops with sea salt and white pepper.
     Heat a saute pan over medium heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
     Add 1 pat of unsalted butter.
     Add the 2 sea scallops.
     Sear the scallops on both sides, till light golden brown highlights appear.
     The scallops should be medium/medium rare in the middle.
     Remove the scallops from the pan and set them aside on a dish on a stove top.  Let the scallops rest while the plate is being set.
     Seared Sea Scallops on Cilantro Chila with Fenugreek Brandy Creme and Cardamom Purple Yam Rouille:
     Place two groups of 3 cilantro chila pancakes each on a plate.
     Place a cilantro leave on each cilantro chila pancake.
     Spoon a generous amount of the fenugreek brandy creme sauce on the center of each group of the cilantro chila pancakes.
     Set a seared scallop on top of the fenugreek brandy creme on each group of chila pancakes.
     Place a few very thin sliced slivers of green onion on each scallop.
     Use the plastic squirt bottle with the cardamom purple yam rouille in it to randomly paint the plate with the purple colored rouille.
     This is a very nice tasting exotic recipe!  The ingredients are Indian, but there is so much Indian influence in caribbean cuisine that this recipe could be labeled as a caribbean recipe too.  This is actually the style of some of the finer food that I have cooked in tropical resorts.
     The small cilantro chila pancakes are very light and enjoyable.  The fenugreek brandy creme flavor is complimentary to both the little pancakes and the scallops.  The rouille adds an interesting color and a nice cardamom sweet purple yam flavor to the plate.  Yummy!  ...  Shawna                            

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