Many years ago, we visited Nobu, Chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s watershed Japanese restaurant in Los Angeles. Of course, the evening was awesome and our lingering memory is that of the asparagus dish. The beautiful, alternating rows of perfectly prepared and stacked asparagus were as much a work of art as they were tasty. The visual stuck with us all these years, and that memory serves as the backdrop for seared sea scallops and a salty, sweet and tangy ginger, soy and maple reduction.
It’s a joy to behold and really straightforward to prepare.
2 fresh sea scallops, per person
1 bunch of asparagus. We prefer the narrower stalks.
For the Glaze
½ cup of natural, Minnesota maple syrup
¼ cup of soy sauce
1 knob of ginger, diced fine
¼ teaspoon red chili — more or less to taste
For the Glaze
Add all the ingredients to a small sauté pan. Place over medium-low heat. Simmer until the liquid has reduced to a consistency where it easily coats the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat. As it cools, it will thicken even further.
For the Asparagus
Cut the asparagus to a desired similar length, 4–5 inches. You will need approx. 8 pieces per row. Think 2 or 3 rows.
Fill a bowl with cold water and a handful of ice cubes. Bowl should big enough to hold your cut asparagus.
Fill a shallower sauté pan halfway with water. And a sizable pinch of salt. Bring to a gentle boil. Add the asparagus. Poach until bright green, 3–5 minutes.
Add the poached asparagus to your iced water. This will quickly stop the cooking process. After the asparagus has chilled, remove from the water. You can place the pieces in the refrigerator until you are ready to assemble.
Build your asparagus stacks, 8 to a row, 3 layers tall.
For the Scallops
Dry and sear over medium heat in a shallow, nonstick sauté pan. You can add a little oil to the pan to help with the browning. If the scallops are fresh, you can cook to a nice medium rare — browning on the surface, soft and warm in the middle.
Place 2 seared scallops on top of the asparagus stacks. Drizzle with a few spoonfuls of the warm glaze. If you have access to Danish fried onions and desire a little more crunch, sprinkle to taste.
Serve with a crisp white wine or even a rosé!