Grouper is not the only ingredient that’s seasonal in Florida right now. You can’t walk the neighborhood without a mango hitting you on the head. When I lived on the beach in the Tampa Bay area, my neighbor had a mango tree over the fence that divided our property. In June, I’d find dozens of mangoes (I don’t personally believe that mangoes ends in ‘es’ — where did that ‘e’ come from? Does one write of tangoes with one’s amigoes? But my spell-checker, and wikipedia says it’s so, therefore who am I to debate spelling) sitting in my lawn. My current neighbors aren’t as well stocked with mango trees, so I bought a few from my local market. I also found some local scallops on sale, U-12s, so I grabbed a few of those. Mango and scallops might be considered Caribbean, but I wanted to do some Asian spice, so I went for a sriracha-glaze, with a mango-bacon risotto.
As fate would have it, What’s For Lunch Honey is having a mango-themed challenge until July 14th, which is actually Bastille Day in another coincidence which is probably completely irrelevant to mangoes. But, it’s enough coincidence that we’ll play along and have a lot of fun.
In selecting a mango, look for red color from 1/3 to just over 1/2 of the fruit. It should give just a little bit when you press in on the skin, sort of like a peach or a banana. You don’t want a hard-as-apple fruit. Harder fruit will ripen in a day or two, but leave it out for a while — I don’t like cooking with fruit that isn’t quite there yet.
Also, sririacha sauce is aiming to be the ketchup of the 21st century. Friends and I used to know it only as “rooster sauce” from the prominent rooster on the plastic bottle, found in Asian stores and restaurants everywhere. It’s been getting some buzz lately for it’s kicky chili taste, mixed with the vinegary-tomato base that’s familiar to all Americans, and yet there’s an Asian flavor to it as well. Not too bad of a successor to Buffalo seasoning, in my opinion.
For the scallop glaze, I mixed soy sauce with a bit of rice vinegar, some honey, some lobster stock (I made some a while back from all the lobster recipes. Chicken stock would be good, too) some sriracha, and some lime juice. I soaked the scallops in there for a good 30 minutes or so.
Meanwhile, I did an Asian-Italian faux-risotto. I mixed about 1/2 cup of white wine, 1/2 cup lobster stock, and some soy. I took some risotto Arborio rice, did a quick sauté in butter until translucent on the outside, then added the wine/stock/soy mix. That would simmer (covered) for 20 minutes until the rice was done (which I then beat like mad with a wooden spoon to release some starch).
I fried up some bacon, because pork is just necessary. I chopped some shallots and shiitake mushrooms, and when the bacon was done, I cooked the shallots in the pork fat (mmmm) until they were sweated, and added the mushrooms to soften.
I cut the mango for the rice. It’s easiest to slice off chunks from around the oblong seed, then score the sides, kinda like a cross-hatch. If you bend the skin concave, the fruit juts out, and it’s easy to pull it off. I chopped the mango to the point where it was smaller than a dice, but larger than a mince.
The scallops would take maybe 5-8 minutes to cook. I poured the sauce into a sauce-pan to reduce down a bit on a serious simmer (less than a boil, but an agressive simmer). I heated a pan and added some olive oil to almost smoking, then added the scallops to sear.
The sauce/glaze reducing:
When the rice was done, I chopped the bacon into pieces. I added mango and the bacon and the shiitake/shallots to the rice, and combined with a splash or two of soy sauce. A bit of lime over the top for some acid, and the rice would be done.
For plating, I scooped the rice in a mold (just a nice, generous ladle, inverted over the plate). The scallops went in front, and some of the reduced glaze-sauce went over the scallops.
Deconstruction: I think the glaze was a bit too watery when the scallops came out. The sear worked on one side, then when they let out a bit of water, there was too much liquid in the pan, and the second side didn’t sear as much. I could probably have drained the scallops on some paper-towels before searing them, and I think there would have been enough glaze to still give some good color.
The taste was spot-on, though. The sririacha was definitely there, happily in the foreground without blasting off the palate. The scallops were cooked just right, even if not exactly seared on the bottom. The rice was full of fruit and pork taste, which went so perfectly together, and a little bit of the chili-tasting glaze leaking into the rice didn’t hurt at all. I’d rate it great on taste, and I’d work on the scallop-searing technique a little more.