Not to pat myself on the back too eagerly, but it takes a certain talent to adapt a fancy restaurant dish into something that you’d really want to eat at home. Years ago, when I was lucky enough to eat at Jean-Georges, I ate one of his more famous dishes: a thin sliver of cauliflower balanced on a perfectly seared scallop sitting in a pool of a delightfully exotic caper raisin sauce. That sauce was unforgettable: both sweet and briny and endlessly fascinating. I knew I had to make it for Sauce Week, but I didn’t want to do anything overly fussy with the cauliflower and scallops. What I ended up making is maybe one of the best weeknight dinners I’ve ever made, and the sauce is so easy, you won’t believe your eyes.
Are you ready? To make caper raisin sauce, simply put capers and raisins in a pan with water and simmer until they’re plump, 10 minutes.
Then puree that mixture in a blender.
Return the sauce to a pot and flavor with nutmeg, sherry vinegar, salt and pepper.
That’s all there is too it: a vibrant, totally unforgettable sauce that’s the easiest thing in the world to make.
As for the cauliflower and scallops, all you’ll need are two skillets (doesn’t really matter if they’re stick or non-stick). In the first, pour in a little vegetable oil and a tablespoon or two of butter. Crank up the heat to high and when the mixture’s hot, add a bunch of cauliflower florets, season with salt and pepper, toss all around and cook, aggressively, until caramelized all over, about 15 minutes.
When the cauliflower is close to done, take another non-stick skillet, add a splash of vegetable oil and a dab of butter and heat it until very hot. Pat your scallops (try to get large ones) dry, season with salt and pepper, and then add to the very hot fat. You should hear a sizzle.
Allow to cook 80% of the way on that side, and then, using a spoon, flip them over to finish on the other side.
To plate, try to do a swoop with your caper raisin sauce. Pour sauce into one spot on the plate, place a spoon on it, and swoop it around in a semi-circle. (Note: this is a terrible picture and I’m not sure I did a very good job of this.)
Place the scallops on the sauce and the cauliflower on the other side of the plate and voila!
It’s really an impressive dinner and, as you can see, surprisingly easy to make. So get yourself some raisins, some capers, some scallops and cauliflower and cook a dinner like a four-star chef. No culinary degree required.
Recipe: Scallops and Cauliflower with Caper-Raisin Sauce
Summary: Adapted from Jean-Georges: Cooking At Home with a Four-Star Chef.
- 1/3 cup capers, drained of all but 1 tablespoon of their liquid
- 1/3 cup golden raisins
- Vegetable oil
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, plus a little more
- 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
- 12 scallops (for two people), large ones
- Chopped parsley, for garnish
- Start by making the caper raisin sauce. Combine the capers and raisins in a small saucepan and add 3/4 cup water; simmer gently until the raisins are plump, about 10 minutes. Do it slowly; you don’t want the liquid to reduce. Let the mixture cool a bit, then puree in a blender. Return to the sauce pan. Set aside.
- Heat a splash of the vegetable oil and 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet. When very hot, add all of the cauliflower florets, season with salt and pepper, and toss all around until evenly coated. Cook on medium/high heat until the cauliflower is crisp and golden brown all over, about 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, reheat the sauce gently and flavor with the nutmeg, vinegar, salt and pepper. Adjust for seasoning.
- Then, in a separate skillet, heat another splash of vegetable oil and the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Pat the scallops very dry, season with salt and pepper, and carefully lay into the hot fat. It should immediately sizzle. Cook the scallops 80% on one side (you’ll see it go from translucent to opaque) and then, with a spoon, flip them over to finish on the other side.
- Spoon the sauce on to two plates, pile the scallops on top, and scoop the cauliflower on to the other side of the plate. Garnish with parsley.
Preparation time: 30 minute(s)
Cooking time: 20 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 2