Previously, on tastingmenu.wordpress.com
After a busy few weeks, my wife was asking if I had any new dishes in mind and I considered the World Of Nobu Scallop/Cabbage Steak With Soy Milk Soup, (p . 148,149). I’d made both seared scallop dishes the Nobu Cabbage ‘Steak’ before (by the way, there is a detailed write up of making Nobu Now‘s (Napa) Chinese Cabbage Steak‘ (p. 148,149) Nobu West‘s (Savoy) Cabbage Steak (p.116, 117) at https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/9496-napa-cabbage-steak ).
After I’d purchased the Nobu West book at Matsuhisa, LA, back in June of 2007, one of the first things, I’d made was the Watercress And Soy Milk Soup (p. 87). Essentially, the soup was a blanch/simmer of watercress stems in dashi for about 5 minutes, puree’ing it, straining it, then adding in soy milk and the leaves and simmering for another 3 minutes, re-puree, re-strain and season with usukuchi soy (correcting the seasoning with salt/pepper). When I first made the soup, I wasn’t aware of the soy milk boiling point of 165 degrees and, as a result, my soup curdled (yuba curds started appearing). I did get it right, on the second attempt.
The original soup base was:
2 1/2 c dashi
7 oz unsweetened, unflavored soy milk
1/4 c usukuchi (light) soy sauce
salt/black pepper to correct the seasoning
For World Of Nobu dish, the microbatch amount came to:
1 1/4 c dashi
3/8 c + 1 T unsweetened, unflavored soy milk
1/2 t 4:1 salt/black pepper to correct the seasoning (this World Of Nobu recipe dropped the soy sauce)
Because the amount of liquid was about 1 7/8 c, I chose 1/2 t salt/pepper mix for the seasoning.
Now it was just a matter of making the napa cabbage ‘steak’ rolls to go with the soup and seared scallops.
The key to making the cabbage steak rolls, according the Nobu Now recipe, is to stack the whole cabbage leaves
in alternating directional positions (if the lower cabbage leaf is pointing right, the next leaf stacked on top of it should be pointing left) so the stack would maintain an even thickness throughout, even when rolled into a
cylinder. At that point, it was now just a matter of trussing it evenly every inch or so to get 1″ thick slices when
the time came. And this is what it would like taking portions off the cylinder:
Even though I was making these cabbage ‘steaks’ for the dish, Matsuhisa-sama does a 2″ thick version of this with savoy cabbage using the same principle and serving it with his Matsuhisa Soy Onion Dressing.
Once I got the cabbage ‘steaks’ done, I portioned out my dashi, salt/pepper, and soy milk for the dish.
As I was to discover, I probably could have scaled the recipe down further
since the amount I ended up making for this dish seemed to be enough
to make at least 4 portions.
Bearing in mind that I had to be watchful of the soup not getting too hot, I began cooking my cabbage steaks and scallops at the same time, in the same pan at 4 minutes a side. I seasoned both my scallops and cabbage steaks on both sides each with a 3 fingered pinch of 4:1 salt/pepper mix and got them into a preheated pan with
a little bit of grapeseed oil. After 4 minutes on medium (50% max power) heat, I flipped each component carefully and let it cook for another 4 minutes. Using tongs, I moved a cabbage steak to a plate and carefully
snipped off the butcher’s twine and gently removed the aluminum foil and then topped it with a cooked scallop. Once the scallop was on, I gently topped the scallop with one teaspoon of salmon caviar (from the Caviar Russe Co). Now it was just a matter of spooning around the soy milk soup (about 5 tablespoons). While the plating
structure held up during the assembly, the cabbage steak slightly collapsed on its way to the dinner table. I suspect this might have occurred because the ‘steak’ thickness was 1″ given the compression from the combined scallop/salmon caviar weight. The next time I make this, I’ll need to follow the guidance from the Nobu West Savoy Cabbage Steak variant and use 2″ thick slices rather than the 1″.
Upon tasting the dish, my wife was skeptical about the soy milk/dashi combination. But that ‘soup’ really did serve to tie the whole dish flavors together. One of the interesting things I observed was that I could make the same Nobu West soup without the usukuchi soy, if I so chose (with a nod to my friends with gluten issues). This dish was a wonderful way to start a President’s Day weekend dinner.
Thank you Chef Yuichi Yamaguichi and Matsuhisa-sama for sharing this scallop recipe.