Seared Scallops with Truffle and Potato Mousseline

Truffles Are a Chef’s Best Friend

Truffles range from affordable summer truffles (€100 per 100 gram) via expensive winter truffle (€150 per 100 gram) to extremely expensive white truffles (starting at €375 per 100 gram). Cultivated truffles are considerably less expensive but unfortunately they have less flavour and taste.

Commercially it’s a clever idea to introduce high end products like Risotto with Truffle, Truffle Mayonnaise, Crisps with Truffle, Butter with Truffle Flavour or Black Angus Truffle Burger. The addition of truffle allows the producer to charge more compared to the regular product. So you wonder, how much truffle is actually added? Well, don’t be surprised: it ranges from hardly any truffle to absolutely no truffle at all.

The risotto rice for instance contains 0,2% of truffle per 100 gram. Probably it will be a cultivated truffle, so the impact of the 0,2% is zero. Especially if you take into account that summer truffle (and white truffle to be complete) loses its flavour when heated. Let’s look at the figures: the truffle risotto rice comes at €8,50 per kilo (containing 98,8% of rice) and the same rice without truffle at €2,75 per kilo. So for nearly 6 Euro difference you buy 2 gram of cheap truffle, 8 gram of porcine, parsley, garlic and chives. Yes, indeed, it’s Liza Minnelli singing Truffles makes the world go round, the world go round!

But I Did Taste Truffle!

Of course you didn’t. You imagined you tasted it because it said so on the pack and because the producer most likely added 2,4-dithiapentane, a synthetically produced, aromatic molecule. Products containing 2,4-dithiapentane taste and smell like a bad chemical version of the real thing. It’s especially sad because people confuse the smell of 2,4-dithiapentane with the smell of real truffle.
If people say they don’t like truffle they actually say they don’t like 2,4-dithiapentane, which is great.

Life is simple and truffles are expensive. So get rid of the truffle flavoured rice, oil, mayonnaise, preserved truffle and what have you and enjoy spending some real money on a good product!

An Exciting Combination

In this recipe we combine winter truffle with scallops and potatoes. Winter truffle improves in taste when warm. And it loves potatoes. Perhaps because both grow underground and have a similar odd shape?

Wine Pairing

You need a medium bodied wine to match the powerful taste and flavours. One that brings freshness, citrus, purity and character. We enjoyed a glass of Costieres de Nimes Nostre Pais 2016. You could also go for a Chardonnay with a touch of wood. Combining it with a Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris or Picpoul de Pinet is not a good idea because you then miss out on the necessary earthy tones in the wine.

What You Need

  • 3 Fresh Scallops (preferably in the shell)
  • 1 Starchy Potato
  • Milk
  • Butter
  • White Pepper
  • Salt
  • 10+ Gram of Black (Winter) Truffle

What You Do

Start by making the mousseline: peal the potato and cook until done. Make a mash with a fork or a potato squeezer. Optional: pass potatoes through a fine sieve. Warm the milk and add to the mash. Add a generous amount of butter. Use a whisk to make the mousseline. Add white pepper. The mousseline must combine with the intense taste of the scallops, so a touch of salt is also needed. Keep warm. Half the scallops and fry quickly in a touch of butter in a non sticky pan. When nearly ready, grate the truffle. Take two warm plates, dress with the mousseline, add the three scallops and top with black truffle.

Seared Scallops with Truffle and Potato Mousseline © cadwu
Seared Scallops with Truffle and Potato Mousseline © cadwu

Vitello Tonnato

Fish and Meat

Who came up with the idea to combine veal, tuna, anchovy, mayonnaise and capers?
The story goes that in the 19th century veal was prepared as if it was tuna. Sounds a bit far fetched, but tuna wasn’t eaten raw (at least not in Europe) but cooked in water with various herbs and then stored in brine or oil. Tha approach to prepare veal as if it is tuna was described in 1836 by the French Monsieur Burnet in his recipe Manière de donner au veau l’apparence et le goût du thon mariné.
In 1862 (according to Luca Cesari) a medical doctor from Milan was the first to combine tuna and veal.

Anchovy

Not a remarkable ingredient at all!
(Salted) anchovy has been used as a flavour booster in meat dishes and sauces for many centuries. For instance in the combination of leg of lamb with anchovy and garlic it will bring depths, umami and saltiness. When making a remoulade sauce you should not forget to add anchovy. And why not prepare a wonderful French Anchoiade? Or dip your vegetables in Bagna Cauda? And let’s not forget the joy of crusted bread with Tapénade (black olives, capers, garlic, anchovy and olive oil). What would a classic Caesar salad or a salade Niçoise taste like without the anchovies in the dressing? Such a useful fish!

Wine Pairing

The obvious choice is to drink a glass of Italian white or rosé wine with the vitello tonnato. A fresh wine, with a touch of acidity and not too complex, for instance a Bardolino Chiaretto or a Soave.

What You Do (Classic approach)

Given the origin of Vitello Tonnato the meat should be cooked in water with carrots, onion, leek, clove, bay leaf, thyme and pepper. The trick is not to cook it too long; you want a touch of pink in the meat when it is served. Keep some of the cooking juices to add to the sauce later on.
Create the mayonnaise by mixing egg yolks, lemon and a neutral oil (peanut or grape seed oil).

What You Need

  • 150 gram of Veal (top side or silver side)
  • Butter
  • Olive Oil
  • Mayonnaise
  • 75 gram of canned Tuna (in brine)
  • 1 Anchovy fillet (or 2 depending on your preference)
  • Lemon
  • Capers (in brine)

What You Do

We prefer to fry the meat, even if it’s historically and culinary incorrect. We think frying is quicker and gives you more control over the cuisson. Plus we feel that cooking the meat means losing flavours.
Fry the meat in a heavy iron skillet in some butter and olive oil. Not too hot! Sear the meat, lower the temperature and fry the meat until nicely rosé. Transfer the meat to a sheet of aluminium foil and let rest until lukewarm or cool. Wrap the foil around the meat, let cool and transfer to the refrigerator.
Just before serving, blender the tuna, the anchovy, a few capers, the juices from the meat (in the foil) and some lemon juice until completely smooth. Add some mayonnaise to a bowl, add a spoonful of the mixture and taste. Continue until you have the right balance. Thinly slice the veal, serve on a plate and top with the sauce. Make sure some of the meat is still visible. Decorate with the capers.

Vitello Tonnato © cadwu
Vitello Tonnato © cadwu