Susan McWhinney
Alex Stupak's scallop tacos with roasted maitake and avocado puree.
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Scallop Tacos with Roasted Maitake & Avocado Puree

Alex Stupak, Empellon / September 2011

For 4 servings

Tlatonile:
• 4 ancho chiles, stems and seeds removed
• 10 cloves garlic
• 2 Tbsps. lard
• 1 cup sesame seeds
• 2 chile de árbol, stems and seeds removed and toasted
• mushroom stock
• salt

  1. Hold an ancho chile 6" above an open flame with tongs until skin crackles and blisters slightly; submerge in ice water bath; repeat with remaining chiles; let stand 1 hour. 

  2. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat; add garlic; cook until softened and blackened in spots; remove from heat; cool slightly; peel garlic; reserve.

  3. Heat 1 Tbsp. lard in a skillet; add sesame seeds; cook, stirring, occasionally, until brown; remove from heat; place in a blender; drain ancho chiles in a colander; place in blender with sesame seeds; add reserved garlic and chile de árbol; add enough water to allow ingredients to blend easily; blend until smooth.

  4. Heat remaining 1 Tbsp. lard in clean skillet; add puree; cook, stirring constantly, until reduced to thick paste; remove from heat; place in a blender; with motor running, add enough mushroom stock to bring mixture to consistency of a coulis; season; strain through fine chinois into a bowl; place in squeeze bottle; reserve.

Roasted maitake:
• 1/2 lb. maitake, cleaned and roughly chopped
• olive oil
• salt

  1. Heat oven to 375°F.

  2. Place mushrooms in a bowl; drizzle with oil; season; toss to coat; spread out mushrooms on baking sheet lined with parchment paper; roast 20 minutes; remove from oven; reserve (keep warm).

Assembly:
• 2 avocados
• 1 cup lime juice, plus more for scallops
• 1/4 cup cilantro leaves, packed
• lard
• 16 scallops, washed and dried well
• salt
• 8 tortillas, warmed
• sesame seeds, toasted (for serving)
• upland cress leaves (for serving)

  1. Place avocados, 1 cup juice, and cilantro in a blender; blend until smooth; strain through fine chinois into a bowl; place in squeeze bottle; reserve.

  2. Place enough lard in cast-iron Dutch oven to fill up to 3" in pot when liquid; heat to 400°F; add scallops; cook until brown; remove with a spider; place on paper towels to drain; season; drizzle with a little juice; reserve (keep warm).

  3. To serve, place 2 tortillas on each plate; place 2 scallops side by side on each tortilla; squeeze some tlatonile and avocado puree onto each scallop; spoon a few mushrooms over top; garnish with seasame seeds and cress.

What to drink: Badge Chardonnay Santa Rita Hills 2006 Chef’s Note: We use fresh masa to make our tortillas. If making your own, form them from about 1/4 cup (60 grams) of fresh masa, cook them on a comal, and reserve in styrofoam container to keep warm. If using premade tortillas, reheat them and wrap in a hot, moist towel before placing in styrofoam container.