When I’m looking for things to pair, it’s not always about flavors. Sometimes I match ingredients by season and other times I go by color. In this case, I went with a theme of round things and made a carpaccio with scallops, kumquats, pink peppercorns, and a nice round olive oil.
This one is a lot of fun to eat because it starts off buttery from the creamy olive oil, and then it’s sweet and tart with bursts of salt. Finally you get the sweet umami from the scallops that’s tempered by the fragrant pink pepper and kumquat zest. Each bite is a little bit different from the one before it, and with a fun medley of tastes and textures, it’s the perfect first course to impress guests at your next dinner party.
This is probably stating the obvious, but for the scallops, you want to use very fresh scallops. Ideally look for scallops that are still in their shells and have not been shucked. At the very least, look for scallops that are “dry”, meaning they have not been treated with chemicals that are used to make most store-bought scallops plumper. Fresh scallops should smell like a clean ocean breeze, and they definitely should not be fishy. If you’re unsure, don’t eat them raw.
For the olive oil, I recommend a good quality creamy olive oil made with a higher percentage of ripe olives (it will be more yellow in color than green). I used an Australian one this time, but many Spanish olive oils will work well.
As for the salt, be sure to pick one that’s flaky rather than chunky, and you ideally want one that has a relatively mild salinity with lots of umami.
Scallop Carpaccio with Kumquats
- 4 "dry" sea scallops
- 4 kumquats
- 32 pink peppercorns
- 4 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon good sea salt
- Using a very sharp carving or sashimi knife, slice each scallop into 6-7 slices, across the grain.
- Slice the kumquats into very thin rounds, removing any seeds as you go.
- To plate, alternate the scallop slices with kumquat slices and top each kumquat slice with a pink peppercorn.
- Drizzle with the olive oil and then sprinkle with the sea salt. Serve immediately.
Yield: Makes 4 servings
Marc Matsumoto is a culinary consultant and recipe repairman who shares his passion for good food through his website norecipes.com. For Marc, food is a life long journey of exploration, discovery and experimentation and he shares his escapades through his blog in the hopes that he inspires others to find their own culinary adventures. Marc’s been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and has made multiple appearances on NPR and the Food Network.