Closed Captioned For The Thinking Impaired

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Spring Into Shape The "Lite" Gourmet Way: Grilled Pomegranate-glazed Prawn & Sea Scallops, Fiesta Salad of Jicama, Avocado & Feta, Campania Artichoke

Fiesta Salad
In the Spring, a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love, at least in the world according to Lord Alfred Tennyson. And a life without love is like a tree without blossoms or fruit. Fortunately, Spring is the season for for flowers to grow; so they'll be no barren branches for us to worry about either.

No, the thing that women start to ponder about this time of the year is not necessarily Lord Tennyson & his corny words nor the blossoming shrubs that enliven the pollen and add to the woes of allergy sufferers everywhere. No right about now we start thinking of the dreaded, the inevitable... the silhouette framing clothes of spring & summer with that right around the corner bikini season swimsuit taunting us.

So with that in mind, I'm starting to think of delicious full-flavored dishes that are lower in calories to start your "Spring" back into fitness & whittle your way back into your bikinis which frankly, won't hurt your love life either. (See how beautifully I tied in the rites of Spring-- NOT!)

The assembled dish

Yep, Mission Control has set the course and the following recipe, if you call what is basically an assemblage of ingredients a recipe, is the blast off into a regimen utilizing the best of what the Bay Area has to offer in this eternal season of renewal. What makes this a little lazy as well as "lite" is that we will use store-bought Pomegranate Sauce from Stonewall Kitchen, a really superior product that saves me time & tastes remarkably similar to a sauce I would make from Pom juice, aromatics & herbs. We marinade the seafood in the sauce with a bit of E.V. olive oil & fresh ground pepper up to an hour ahead or as little as 15 minutes, grill the shrimps and scallops, and then reduce a 1/3 of cup of the Pomegranate sauce in a small pan with a touch of soy sauce & a splash of whatever wine you happen to be drinking at the time until it's thick & glaze like. While the seafood marinates, prepare the sriracha aioli, the artichokes, the salad veggies & the dressing, keeping them separate until ready to serve; then toss the ingredients together. Simple!

Note: The Campania is a large red artichoke. Redder than the Anzio, but not quite as red as the Fiesole. It is the world's largest red artichoke as some have been harvested that weigh over 2 pounds. Like the Lyon, it also comes from extensive breeding program in Southern France and its usage is similar to the Lyon. The Campania artichokes really have a beautiful almost fuschia-colored tinge to the leaves & are much more tender than the usual Globe choke; so they require less cooking time and preparation. If you can't find them at your market, simply replace with the Globe variety, cook longer and trim more, carefully removing the tough outer leaves & spines.

The gomasio for the court bouillon is a Japanese condiment that provides a more savory alternative to plain sea salt. It is comprised of sesame seeds, sea salt, & sea vegetables: organic dulse, nori and kombu. It really works well with the chokes imparting a nutty but still greenish (is green a flavor? yes it is!) flavor to them. You can just substitute toasted sesame seed, sea salt & maybe nori, if you have some around. I like the Eden Organics brand. Here's a link: click here.

Grilled Pomegranates-Glazed Prawns & Sea Scallops, Fiesta Salad, & Campania Artichokes with Sriracha Aioli


For the salad:
1 fresh jicama, peeled, cut into batons
1 handful of fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
10 cups of organic field greens (about 5 oz.), rinsed & dried
1/2 pint of grape or cherry tomatoes, halved lengthwise (from stem end to stem end)
1 Hass avocado, cut into 1 inch chunks
1 shallot, minced finely
2 ounces of feta (mine came from San Rafael), crumbled but not too finely
1/2 Meyer lemon
1 Tablespoon of Stonewall Kitchen's Pomegranate Grille Sauce
1 Tablespoon of cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil
sea salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
1 Ziploc gallon-sized plastic bag

The ingredients all assembled & ready for action

Jicama cut into batons

The mise en place for the salad

For the Artichokes:
2 Campania artichokes, stems lightly trimmed, tops sheared
1 bay leaf, whole for the court bouillon
2 tablespoons of seaweed gomasio (optional)
2 cloves of garlic lightly smashed (substitute garlic powder for it, if you must)
freshly ground pepper
8 quarts of boiling water that has been acidulated with lemon or rice wine vinegar

Campania Artichokes... so pretty...
picture not so pretty

For the sriracha aioli:
2 Tablespoons of lowfat mayo
1 clove of garlic finely minced & mashed with 1/4 teaspoon of coarse fleur de sel
1 Tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
the juice of a 1/4 Meyer lemon
1 and 1/2 teaspoons of Sriracha hot sauce (or add to taste, you can find it in any Safeway supermarket, check the archives for a link to the product or google sriracha sauce)
1/4 teaspoon of Thai or Vietnamese fish sauce (or a 1/4 teaspoon of high quality anchovy paste)
freshly ground black pepper

Sriracha-chili aioli dipping sauce for the Campania Chokes

For the scallops & prawns:
1/2 lb of fresh sea scallops, adductor muscles removed (see photo)
1/2 lb. of #10-#12 prawns, removed from shells and deveined
1/3 cup of Stonewall Kitchen Pomegranate Grille Sauce (see note)
1 Tablespoon of Meyer lemon infused extra virgin olive oil (or the juice of 1/2 a lemon & 1 Tablespoon of EVOO)
1 teaspoon of soy sauce
1 teaspoon of agave nectar (or honey)
freshly ground black pepper
sea salt to taste (optional, I personally think both the pomegranate and the soy sauce have ample amounts of sodium so I wouldn't add it; but that's just my preference)

East Coast sea scallops and #10 prawns, sorry locavores!

Removing the adductor muscle from the scallops


  1. Prepare the marinade ingredients for the seafood. Using a mixing bowl whisk together all the wet ingredients with the pepper, whisking in the oil last to form an emulsion. Taste, adjust seasoning &/ or marinade ingredients & when prepared to taste. Set aside for a moment.
  2. Clean and prepare the scallops & shrimp, being sure to remove the adductor muscles from the former, and the shells, intestinal tract, pleopods and pareopods (the front "arms" & back "legs") from the latter.
  3. Add the seafood & the marinade to the ziploc bag, shaking the bag around a bit to be sure that the marinade is evenly distributed. Set aside & allow to marinate at least 15 minutes up to an hour.
  4. Place the seasonings in 7-8 quarts of the boiling water for the artichokes, then add the chokes covering with lid & allow to boil for 10 minutes. When you smell them & can pierce the bottom of the chokes easily with the tip of a knife, you know they're done. Remove them from the water & set them on a towel, cut side down, to drain.
  5. While the artichokes are cooking & the seafood is marinating, prepare the sriracha aioli. The best way is with a large mortar & pestle but you can mix it in a small bowl. First crush the garlic & salt together to form a paste, then add the lemon juice & some freshly ground black pepper to the paste, incorporate well. Add the lowfat mayo, stir in. Add the sriracha & fish sauce. Mix well. Whisk in the olive oil, which just provides flavor for this dip, not emulsion, the prepared mayo provides that. Then taste & adjust for seasoning, thickness & heat. If it's too spicy add more mayo. Too thick, add more lemon juice. etc. When done spoon into individual small bowls for dipping.
  6. Next prepare the salad dressing, whisking the ingredients together & set aside until you are ready to serve the salad.
  7. Add all the salad veggies, except the avocado, to a large bowl & toss together. Set aside. DO NOT add the dressing, yet.
  8. Prepare your grill pan by brushing it with grapeseed oil or another vegetable oil with a high flash point. DO NOT use olive oil. It burns too easily. Place over medium/high heat.
  9. Place a 1/3 cup of the Pomegranate Grille Sauce in a small sauce pan set over medium/high heat, add a dash of soy sauce, the agave nectar & a splash of olive oil. Whisk it in & allow it to reduce while you cook the seafood. Keep an eye on it by stirring occasionally to be sure it doesn't burn.
  10. Remove the scallops & shrimp from the marinade. Drain excess marinade & pat dry with a paper towel. When the grill is hot, place the shrimp in pan making sure not to overcrowd the pan. Grill about 1-1/2 minutes per side or until they pinken & just start to curl. Remove from pan & set aside on a warm plate while you cook the scallops.
  11. Next, wipe the grill down with a wet paper towel held with tongs. Then brush grill surface with grapeseed oil; let it heat for 30 seconds or so & place the scallops in, careful not to overcrowd them. You want them to grill not steam. Cook the scallops about two minutes each side, less if they are small; more if they are large. When done to your liking, remove them from the grill pan & set aside in a warm place with the shrimp.
  12. Add the remaining marinade to the grill & heat until bubbly & thick. Remove from heat & place seafood in the sauce, gently tossing to coat the seafood. Turn off the sauce pan with the pomegranate sauce, giving it a quick stir.
  13. Toss the salad with dressing, avocado & feta.
  14. Plate the dish by placing a smear of pomegranate glaze on 1/3 of the dinner plate & topping with half the shrimp & scallops. Drizzle a little additional glaze on top, if desired.
  15. Plate the salad next to the seafood. Place the artichoke & dipping bowl on the last 1/3 of the plate. Serve.
This recipe serves 2 hungry workout addicts looking for a little "Spring" in their step. ;P

Le Creuset grill pan, an apartment dwellers best choice for grilling

Pomegranate-marinated scallops grilling

Simple with a few short cuts but still yummy!

The Colors of Spring:


Mission: Cochon said...

Wow, I think I actually just salivated over reading "Pomegranate-marinated scallops" and "Sriracha-chili aioli dipping sauce". What heavenly sounding descriptions! I hope it tasted as good as it looks!

The Gourmet Chronicles said...

Thanks, mission:cochon, it did!
Now that you posted a comment, I feel it is my duty to provide the recipe which is ridiculously easy. Especially since I subbed out the sauce to a bottle of Stonewall Kitchen's Pomegranate Grille Sauce that night. It has really clean flavors that taste like the sauce I would make from pom juice anyway.

I've been waaaay lazy, lately. But you have renewed my interest in this food blog which was waning.

Thanks so much!
Hope you find the perfect pig! ;P