Seared Scallops With Potato Puree, Carrot Cubes, Blistered Pork Belly and Chive Oil
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon allspice
1 teaspoon whole cloves
1 teaspoon juniper berries
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes
3/4 stick butter, divided
4 extra large sea scallops (~ ½ lb total)
1 bunch carrots
My pork belly; I try not to think about … well, this cut of meat in relation to, um, MY belly. ‘Nuff said; just know that my mind’s wanderlust is twisted and obscure, and… right, ’nuff said. Anyway, you can see that the price isn’t prohibitive – whereas the fat content (all that lovely white stuff among the pink flesh) is extremely high.
See? All the smooth, buttery white is melting fat, and the wee strips of pink represent the only sweet meat this slab of midriff has to offer. To my eyes, this is the swell of an Odalisque’s inviting white belly; the seductive mounds of Maja’s tender tummy; the luxurious folds of flesh Luncheon(ing) in the Grass. This is the idealized Botticellian belly that, in times during which my miniaturized voluptuousness mayhaps would have turned heads, such mature development of softness and latent energy was desirable and en vogue. (To most others these days, it is CALORIES. P’shaw, I say! Life’s too short…)
I looked through many posts (starting with FoodGawker, then Googling, then Epicurious, then – heck, lots more choices), and found TONS of ways to make crispy skinned pork belly with meltingly tender meat. The Vietnamese refer to it as Thit Heo Quay; the Chinese (I think) call it Siu Yok or Sieu Yoke; the Filipino style is Lechon Kawali; and my peeps love their Chicharron. Some recipes call for marinating the meat with fermented bean paste and spices overnight before roasting; some call for it to be brined then boiled then dried then roasted; some for it to be boiled then dried then fried; and all sorts of recipes in between. I, er, sort of threw myself into random mode, and cherry picked my procedures based on my impulses, my ingredients, and my equipment. So I start<
I leave the skin-side bare…
Using my kosher salt, I rub down the entire pockmarked surface of my belly’s skin. I set this into my fridge for 2 hours uncovered (or, you can put it into a ventilated ziplock bag, and put it into your fridge overnight, taking it out an hour before roasting to bring it back to room temp). I preheated my oven to 475°, then placed my belly, skin side up, on a rack, over a pan, into my stove, and walked away for 20 minutes.
I’ve peeled my pound of gold from the Yukon…
Like so. Cover with foil to keep warm.
It’s the one hour mark, and I check my pork belly. It is deeply dark roasted, its meat easily shredded with a fork, and its skin hollowly echoes when I tap it with the side of my knife. But it’s not dark enough, so I baste it with the clear fats that have collected in the bottom pan, stick it back into the oven, and turn up the heat to broil for 8-10 minutes.
Meanwhile, I’ve drained my potatoes, leaving a little of the cooking liquid in the pan, and have mashed them thoroughly.
This is 2 tbs butter, cold and cubed.
I add it, one cube at a time, plus one tablespoon heavy cream at a time, to my spuds, which I’ve set over a low burner and which I’m stirring vigorously with a whisk. I add all my cream and butter, whisking well, salting and peppering until it tastes perfect, and until everything is fully incorporated, and the texture of my potatoes is smooth and creamy.
After 10 final minutes under my top broiler, I pull out my pork belly to see blackened charred skin and a full pan of clear fat drippings. I reserve the latter, and don’t fret about the former; most of the recipes I’ve read today indicate that you WANT the skin to be this burned, to ensure that you’ve cooked this outer fatty layer enough to get that crunch you really want. If it doesn’t blacken, it might be chewy instead of crispy.
The solution to over-blackened skin? A serrated knife. I just scraped off all the black crap from my dry, cracklin’, toasted skin; it was easy peasy. When I’m ready, I use my Chinese cleaver to chop – not slice or cut, since my skin is so cracking – my pork into small squares. 1/2 way through shattering pork crisps across my kitchen, I realized that if I chopped through the meat side, with the skin side down, I’d get the perfect pieces I wanted, without the mess.
I’ve got a small saucepan set with a tablespoon of butter (no, I didn’t clarify it; I rather wanted the milk solids browned and sticking to my shellfish) and a tablespoon of EVOO over high heat. When the fats are just about to smoke, I set my scallops into the pan and let them sizzle for 2 minutes, or until I see the cooked worked halfway up the disc of flesh.
I’ve taken 1 bunch of chives, chopped it into about 1/3 cup, and whirred it with my hand blender with an equal amount of EVOO, 1 tsp of salt, and 2 teaspoons lemon juice (or, in my case, the juice from some Meyer lemons I’ve been preserving for a week or so) to make a chive oil. I spoon up my potato puree, stud it with a couple scallops and a few chunks of crispy roasted pork belly, then scatter my carrots and squirt a few drops of my chive oil. My plate is a steaming warm mound of silky smooth fluffy potato puree; the carrots have actually cooled somewhat, and their sweet toothiness contrasts perfectly with the spuds and fresh gr