Can’t believe I’ve been in Ireland for three weeks. Time flies when you’re having fun. And, I really am enjoying myself. It’s been wonderful thus far — cooking and eating (of course), and taking in the sites — what more can one ask for?
I want to embrace as much as I can, including savoring the local delicacies/specialties, one of which is black pudding (aka blood sausage). Yes indeed, pork meat mixed with its blood along with herbs and spices. May sound strange, pig’s blood and all, but when done well, it’s very good.
I’ve had black pudding before, but was not aware that scallops, black pudding, and mint pea purée were a classic pairing. After tasting them in unison, I can see why. Scallops and black pudding complement one another — the earthy, minerally notes in the black pudding mesh well with the clean, delicate flavor of the sea scallops. The pea mint purée adds a nice green, spring, freshness to the dish, and the chile oil ties it all together.
It’s easy enough to prepare, while looking like a dish you would order out at at an upscale restaurant. It makes for a nice starter, perhaps for some of your more adventurous dinner guests.
You can prepare the pea purée and chile oil ahead of time (in fact, I recommend preparing the chile oil a day or two in advance; the longer the flavors meld, the better). The blood sausage and sea scallops get a quick sear. Then, just layer on the flavors — first the pea purée, followed by the blood sausage/black pudding, a seared scallop on top, and, lastly, finished with a good drizzle of chile oil and a little lemon zest.
You can use fresh or frozen peas…
These are female scallops. You can tell by the orange roe. I’ve asked around and most people discard the roe. Not sure why? I happen to like roe, so I left it intact.
You need a smoking hot skillet to achieve a quick sear on the scallops, just a minute or so per side.
Let the chile oil — chiles, olive oil, cilantro, and lime juice — infuse for several hours or even a couple of days…
Black Pudding, Scallops, Chile Oil, and a Mint Pea Purée
serves 2 to 4 as appetizer
Adapted from RTE food (Dermot Bannon)
6 large scallops
6 slices of black pudding, 1-inch round
oil and/or butter for frying
pea puree (recipe to follow)
chile oil (recipe to follow)
lemon zest for garnish
Heat a frying pan over high heat. Add the oil and/or butter. When hot, add the slices of black pudding and sear a minute or two per side. Set aside.
Add a little more oil and/or butter to the pan. When smoking hot, add the scallops and sear a minute to a minute and a half per side, being careful not to overcook them. Set aside.
1 teaspoon butter
1 shallot finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed or grated
5 ounces petit peas
10 fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup chicken stock
In a small pot, melt the butter. Add the shallot and garlic, and sweat 5 minutes until soft but not browned. Add the peas, mint, and stock, and simmer another 5 minutes. Blend until smooth. Set aside and keep warm.
Spoon some pea purée on a plate. Top with a slice of blood pudding. Top with a sea scallop. Drizzle chile oil over the scallops. Sprinkle some lemon zest on top.
Note: You can make the pea purée in advance. Just reheat before serving. You may need to add a little extra chicken stock.
1/2 cup olive oil
3 sprigs cilantro
2 red chiles, finely chopped, (seeded for less heat; with seeds for more heat)
juice of 1 lime
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Combine all the ingredients in a small pot. Simmer over low heat for 1 hour. Turn off the heat and let infuse for a few hours. Discard the cilantro before serving.
Note: You can make the chile oil in advance.