The Recovered Chef – Scallop Ceviche


•           1 pound of scallops

•           ¼ cup squeezed lime juice

•           ¼ cup squeezed lemon juice

•           ½ cup orange juice

•           Two extra oranges, lemons, and limes

•           One avocado

•           ¼ cup sugar

•           Tsp sea salt

•           Can of coconut milk

•           Cilantro

•           Red pepper julienne petit

•           Mixed lettuce greens, whatever you like

•           Tiger beet julienne petit, optional

•           Pinch of Buddha’s hand, minced, optional

•           Bottle of saki, warm,

•           Chives

•           Chive oil, optional

•           One tangerine, partitioned and chopped

•           Candied mango, optional

•           Jicama, peeled, julienne, soaking in ice water to remove starches

•           Caramelized red onion, optional

First, you’ll need a colander, a bowl for mixing ingredients, measuring cup, knives, a very loud stereo playing crushing grindcore or possibly trip hop, a boss on heroin who likes to write curses in plating sauces before serving patrons, and  – I’m getting ahead of myself.

1.         Drink the saki.

2.         Squeeze the orange, lemon and limes for juice in bowl.

3.         Add sugar and salt, stir. It should be relatively incorporated.

4.         Add rinsed scallops, stirring to coat all scallops at least for a moment.

5.         Place mixture in container best fit. The less air in the sealed container, the better. Refrigerate for three days. The saki ran out, aww shucks. You know what to do.

6.         The citrus chemically alters the scallops. They were once slightly translucent, globby pearly and now they should be milky white all the way through. Cut one in half and check it. This is what I understood to be ceviche, the altering of proteins by citrus chemical cooking. If the scallop has a clear center, like some kind of jelly, it’s not ready. Put it back in the fruit soup, squeeze a lime over it, stir it in, cover and check the next day. Do not proceed with anything until scallops are go.

7.         Open can of coconut milk, pour contents in bowl, add fresh orange, lemon and lime juice, stir.

8.         Get your freshies out, the jicama, the red pepper, the chives, lettuces, tangerine, chayote – oh shit, you forgot to blanche the chayote, better shave half cup with carrot peeler, nuke it with a bit of water in loosely covered container for two minutes or so, until soft but not mushy, add salt and dollop of molasses, quick stir, boom. Don’t look at it. Don’t deal with it. Ribbon of shame only option. Fresh out of ribbons, but, sake is also acceptable. Not the cold, syrupy sweet kind, the hot kind. Pour bottle of sake in bowl half full of miso soup. Drink entire bowl immediately. Winter treat.

9.         Clean your herbs, and dry. Mince Tsp. cilantro.

10.       Cut chives from bundle so that you’re left with little tires an ant could put on its ride (up on .022s spinnin’ and grinnin’)

11.       Peel and chop tangerine

12.       Get your Buddha hand, mango, beautiful tiger beet cut so thin it looks like a pile of hair. That’s your flair, work it.

13.       Cut your greens into nice bits, incorporate jicama, tangerine, tiger beet, red pepper, sliced avocado.  And chayote (who knows why, the shit is just stupid, no flavor – just throw it away) can go to hell. You need a cup of green admixture per person. Stir everything in bowl, adding ¼ cup of coconut citrus bath. This is your dressing. Put it in a big squirt bottle and keep it. Thin it with orange juice to taste if necessary. Put some cilantro mince in it if you like, dash of salt.

14.       Slice scallops like little boules (this takes time), about a ¼ cup per person, place in clean bowl, and add half of coconut citrus bath and stir, working in Buddha’s hand, cilantro and chive rims at last moment.

15.       Plating. Find clay fired ceramic numbers that resemble a cross between an onrushing train and a spilled bag of candied corn. Or get a plate that looks like a Goth princess riding a dirt bike through a CISCO executive meeting. Get plates that look like smoke frozen in plasmic balls inside of Pyrex vacuum tubes in a synchrotron. Get plates that look like stepped rice paddies in Guangxi.  Just not round. Oh horrors, get the sake. Doomed, doomed to plate on round dishes? Allow executive chef to use chive oil to write Laotian curses on bottoms of shitty tapas plates that are going to get “dropped and quickly discarded in compactor down the street” right after rush and blamed on dishwasher who just walked out because executive chef called him a shoemaker.

16.       The district compactor is where all the dishwashers and kitchen lackeys, bar backs go to hump their garbage. So much weed it looks like Jamaica. It’s like a fucking red light district, except the red light is coming from a bulb affixed to a machine the size of an airport shuttle bus. Pipes, dugouts, joints, looks like a poker room. A patois of curses in all manner of languages flourish like an obscene Rosetta Stone etched into the tired minds of the lowly, the lost and lonely, funny anecdotes from the night, commiseration about the volume and horribly evil schemes of revenge on higher ups are hatched here. This is where people find out what’s going on. It’s like recon. An executive chef who turns a blind eye to the stony dishwasher, or offers a wink, might get info on what’s kicking at so and so’s, what chefs are coming in and out, who’s hot, where to score. All the dirty dirty. A good dishwasher can do their job, get red light news, and keep secrets. It’s not like their getting promoted, at least not that night, anyways. But they get props, cases of wine, free food, knowledge on personal tastes and drinking preferences of hot and permissive wait staff.

17.       Stop thinking about trash. Plate your food upon the curses, slightly offset from center of plate. Form the greens in a loose cone upon the plate. It should land like a graceful parachutist. It has to be perfect. Add slivers of scallops swimming in the herb coconut citrus dressing, add slivers of candied mango like accents to provide counterpoint, and balance to sour scallops. Drizzle Tbsp. of dressing. Make a rose with caramelized red onion and place on offset negative space on plate. Make sure your edges are clean. Work at maniacal pace for six more hours, plating dozens of other exotic dishes.

18.       Take a stack of plates and wrap them in a towel, place that in two garbage bags, place atop trash in drum, take out trash, then place inner bag with wrapped plates in back of car en route to compactor, leaving the protective layer garbage bag of plastic atop the heap of refuge and replace trash lid, write self a note to get plates on way in to work tomorrow, charge owner as punishment for lack of good taste, go to compactor, staying long enough to get free, then return to clean kitchen meticulously, doing all the dishes because life sucks, off clock, while executive chef sits in catatonic daze going over receipts and logging the books, calling in fish orders and giving the lingering wait staff evil looks.  Scallops will be good for two more days or so, and then they start to stink and get real rubbery, like the stamps used by corrupt politicians.

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