23 Jul 2018
This dish is a light and refreshing crudo/ceviche course served early in the menu. You can do just about anything in the "raw seafood dressed with citrus" framework, so I went to the farmer's market on the day of serving with only the faintest idea of the exact dish I wanted to prepare and letting the market ingredients dictate instead (unlike just about every other course on the menu which is meticulously planned and practiced). In the end I wanted to showcase really excellent raw scallops paired with something slightly sweet, so I picked up a Galia melon on a whim. Galia is kind of like a hybrid of cantaloupe and honeydew, falling on the sweeter side; it is often served as a dessert. For this dish I compressed the melon in a chamber vacuum sealer which gives the fruit an interesting slightly dense texture and translucent appearance, but you could just as easily omit the compression if you don't have a chamber vac. I used green strawberries in the dish to balance the sweet melon - the underripe berries are more tart and acidic compared to extremely ripe summer strawberries, and they're excellent raw or pickled.
A note on raw seafood: "sushi-grade" is an unregulated term and there are no official standards (but certain fish such as salmon must be flash-frozen to kill parasites). You should only eat purchased fish raw if you trust the sourcing and handling of your market or purveyor. For scallops in particular, it is imperative to seek out "dry", or natural scallops. "Wet" scallops have been treated in a sodium tripolyphosphate bath to add water weight and are of inferior quality.
Finishing the dish is a few pieces of lemons preserved in salt. Preserved lemons are one of the all-time great condiments with a strong salty lemon flavor - use them sparingly. They're also incredibly easy to make - lemons are sliced, combined with tons of salt and lemon juice, and kept for up to 6 months or more. The flesh is discarded before using; the preparation is all about the peel and pith. It's a great thing to have around.
For 4 servings (you will have extra preserved lemon and melon)
4-6 Meyer lemons, thoroughly washed
Quart-sized mason jar, sterilized with boiling water
1 Galia melon
4 raw scallops, sushi quality
Green strawberries, thinly sliced
Preserved lemon from above
Flowers or microgreens (pictured is Mexican Tarragon)