Two Years Ago: Shrimp, Grapefruit and Avocado Salad
Time for a confession - I totally stole the concept for this recipe from the Waldorf-Astoria Spa at The Boulders Resort in Scottsdale. Not the recipe, mind you, but the concept. I was checking out spas for an upcoming girls' weekend (tough duty) and was cruising by the spa restaurant, so I stopped to read the menu. One of entrees was miso-glazed scallops with quinoa, pineapple, tomatillo salsa and prickly pear glaze. I wasn't too sure about tomatillo salsa with miso scallops but liked the concept.
So here we are. I pulled together components of several miso-based scallop recipes and added a few ingredients of my own to the quinoa. I say this just in case Waldorf-Astoria employs a word-recognition internet-search service that will immediately flag this post because I would hate to get a cease-and-desist letter in the mail, although I'm sure it would be properly monogrammed on heavy cream paper with a nice gilt edge.
There are a few ingredients that you might not be familiar with: white miso paste, mirin, and quinoa (keen-wah).
Miso is a paste made from fermented soybeans and is a common seasoning in Japanese cuisine. It comes in different varieties (white, red, mixed) and is typically savory and salty. You'll find it in upscale grocers or Asian markets, usually in a tub or plastic bag that needs to be refrigerated after opening. Mirin is a sweet cooking rice seasoning and can be found in the Asian foods section of most grocers. Quinoa is a grain that comes in different colors - usually white or red - and can be found in upscale grocers or natural food stores. I like red quinoa in this recipe because of the color, but if you can't find it the white variety will taste the same.
(If you prefer, you could use shrimp instead of scallops, and if you don't feel like buying miso you could use any soy sauce-based vinaigrette. It won't taste the same, but it'll still be good.)
The miso glaze adds great flavor to the scallops while the quinoa adds nuttiness and the grilled pineapple brings sweetness and juiciness to the party - it's really a great combination. When you consider that this is also a spa dish and therefore healthy and low calorie, you have to admit those Waldorf people know what they're doing.
Miso-Glazed Scallops with Quinoa and Grilled Pineapple
4 (1/2” thick) pineapple slices, outer skin removed
Canola oil, for brushing
3 tablespoons white miso paste
2 tablespoons mirin
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon minced garlic
12 medium sea scallops
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 cup uncooked quinoa (red preferred)
3.5 ounce fresh shiitake mushrooms, cleaned, stems removed and sliced
1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted
3 green onions, white and green parts sliced
Preheat a grill or grill pan to high heat. Brush the pineapple slices with canola oil and grill for about 3 minutes per side until nice grill marks appear. Remove and set aside.
Toast the dry quinoa in a dry pan for a few minutes to develop a toasty flavor, then combine with 2 cups of water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cover. Simmer for 15 minutes.
While the quinoa cooks, heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a medium skillet and sauté the shiitakes for a few minutes until beginning to brown. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the miso, mirin, vinegar, 2 tablespoons canola oil, ginger and garlic. Rinse and pat dry the scallops, then add to the marinade and turn to coat. Let marinate for 5 minutes (scallops will begin to break down if left in any longer). Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the scallops and cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side depending on thickness.
Combine the quinoa, shiitakes, almonds, and half the green onions; season to taste with salt and pepper. To serve, place one pineapple ring on each plate; top with quinoa mixture, 3 scallops, and remaining green onions.