Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Cauliflower puree, seared scallops with prawn oil, sauteed minced prawns with garlic and butter

There are aren't many dishes that I can call my own creation. Most of the dishes that I cook are ones that I have learnt from my parents or I try cooking a lot of the classic dishes (who know the ones that everyone should have in their cooking repertoire) like quiche, lamb ragout, chilli con carne, paella etc. etc.  

This is a dish that I can call my own creation. Well the recipes for the puree and prawn oil I derived from various recipes off the net, the idea for the sauce I came up with and the composition of all the elements together was my own conception. 

The inspiration for this dish came about because I wanted to make a puree. A puree is very simple to make, it’s just cooked food, usually vegetables or legumes that has been blended and sieved to achieve the consistency of a soft creamy paste or thick liquid. But I have never made a puree before…well not the kind that you use as a condiment or sauce for a dish to accompany meat or seafood. I have made vegetable soups that require blending and mashed potatoes which have a similar preparation and consistency as a puree. 

I decided to try making a cauliflower puree and have it with seared scallops.  I love eating seared scallops. Scallops don’t need much else to make them taste good so cauliflower is a good complement as it has a delicate taste and absorbs flavor well but will not add a lot of extra flavour. I wanted another little sauce to accompany the cauliflower puree and scallops so I thought to make some prawn oil to drizzle over the top. Only the prawn shells are used to make the prawn oil, so I minced the prawn meat to sauté in the prawn oil with a little crushed garlic, finished off with some butter!

Cauliflower Puree

½ head cauliflower, cut into florets
around ½ cup milk
125g unsalted butter, cut into 2cm cubes
1 teaspoon salt

Place the cauliflower in a food processor and process until finely chopped. Place the cauliflower and milk in a saucepan, bring to boil and simmer for about 8-10 minutes until the cauliflower is soft. 

Remove from the heat, then add 1 teaspoon of salt and the butter and stir until well combined.

Blend in a blender/food processor until smooth. 

Prawn oil

200ml olive oil
Prawn heads and shells (from about 16 prawns)
30g diced fennel
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon tomato paste

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan, add prawn heads and shells, fennel and bay leaf. Cook stirring occasionally until the prawn heads/shells are cooked (crush the heads/shells to extract flavour) and fennel is soft. Stir in the tomato paste and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Add the remaining olive oil, turn the heat down to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain the mixture, discarding the solids. 

Pan Seared Scallops

Note: scallops must be very dry and the pan has to be very hot in order to get a good sear. 

Rinse the scallops and place them in a single layer on paper towels and cover with another layer of paper towels, press lightly on the scallops to remove any moisture. Remove the scallops from the paper towels and season with some salt and pepper. 

Heat a frying pan over med-high heat, add in some oil and swirl around. Gently place the scallops in the pan and allow the scallops to cook undisturbed for at 1½ -2 minutes until seared/well browned on one side and then turn over and sear the other side. Remove the cooked scallops from the pan and place on paper towels. 

Prawn Sauce (with sauteed minced prawns, crushed garlic and butter)

Heat a few tablespoons of the prawn oil in a small frying pan, add in 3-4 cloves of crushed garlic and ½ cup of finely diced/minced prawns. When the prawns are cooked, add a knob of butter into the pan and swirl around until it melts. Season with a little salt and pepper. 

To Serve

Put a dollop of cauliflower puree on a plate and place a seared scallop on top. Spoon a few bits of the fried prawns/crushed garlic on top of the scallop and drizzle some of the prawn oil in top. Garnish with herbs (I used some coriander).

All the different elements went together really well, I found it delicious! I should have blended the puree a little more and then passed it through a sieve so that I would get a much smoother texture. The prawn oil should have been just a drizzle but I almost drowned the scallops and puree…got a bit carried away with my photo taking and liked the contrast of the orange and white a bit too much and kept adding more prawn oil!

This is one of my favourite things about cooking, the capacity for creativity and experimentation, to come up with a dish, see it through to the end and consume the results. 


  1. There's something just so COOL about coming up with a recipe all of your own, especially when it's as interesting as this one. Well done, I'd definitely like to try it. Or rip it off ;)

  2. Man how good is cauliflower puree? Or in any form, really? I would say it won #1 vegetable of the year for us (especially Matt) in 2010. Nice work!

  3. I agree! Pureed cauliflower + lots of butter = Heaven.