The heat has backed off in my part of the world. But I know the weather is just lulling us into a false sense of security before pummeling us with more oppressive temperatures. So, I’m keeping my beers cold and meals chilled because August is just getting started. And if I’m honest, this is my favorite way to eat. Dishes like today’s Ginger Scallop Aguachile are my idea of heaven. It may sound disconcerting but I really do love raw food. It could be a latent carnivorous instinct or it could simply be a preference for a particular texture. Whatever it is, I find crudo and carpaccio to be endlessly compelling. They’re bursting with flavor, satisfying, yet refreshing. In other words, they’re the only dishes I want to eat in August.
We’re about to enter the second long weekend of the summer, which always makes me feel a little sad. It means the summer is more or less half over and the torrent of back to schools ads is imminent. And it doesn’t seem to matter how old I get, those ads always feel rude to me. How dare you infiltrate my sun-soaked bubble with the harsh reality of responsibility. Even though I’ve been out of school for longer than I care to admit, I still feel affected by the school year. September still feels more like New Year’s than New Year’s and the end of June always feels ripe with the promise of fun. And I don’t think I’m alone. The entire city seems to slow down at this time of year. And the reduced pace is always more than welcome. It just feels more humane.
So when the summer starts to erode, I feel like this chill atmosphere is starting to dissipate. And rather than acclimatizing myself to this return of schedules and work-a-day mundanity. I prefer to bury my head in the sand and stuff my face with the summery-est food I can find. And you don’t get more beach and heatwave friendly than Ginger Scallop Aguachile.
I’m a big fan of a raw bar. Oyster on a half shell, sashimi, crudo, carpaccio – all these dishes speak to me. I just seem to love raw food and honestly, I have no specific event in my life to attribute this preference to. I just find this kind of food refreshing yet satisfying. And I certainly don’t need it to be summer to enjoy dishes like this. But there is something about the heat that makes these plates all the more compelling. The preparation as well.
I’m sure we’re all feeling a little allergic to our stoves at the moment. Well, thankfully this Ginger Scallop Aguachile has little use for one. The wasabi glazed wonton chips on the other hand do require a cast-iron skillet of hot oil. Thankfully, wontons fry up in a little more than a minute, so you can fly through a batch of these chips in 10-15 no problem. 10-15 minutes of sweating in exchange for a stack of golden chips? There are worse things in this world.
But the scallops require nothing more than lime juice, cucumber, jalapeño, garlic, ginger, and cilantro to transform them into a table-ready starter. Just a quick blitz in the food processor and a quick toss and you’re off to the races. You do have to leave the raw scallops in lime juice for a spell in order to “cook” them. But from there you’re doing little more than stirring. I also added minced Asian pear and honeydew melon for a hit of sweet but those are both optional. You can add whichever fresh fruits and veg you see fit. A pico de gallo medley would not be out of place here.
So that’s everything you need to know about this Ginger Scallop Aguachile with Wasabi Glazed Wonton Chips. This is the ultimate August starter. It’s guaranteed to keep you cool, happy, and yes, full for the remainder of the summer.
Ginger Scallop Aguachile with Wasabi Glazed Wonton Chips
- Food Processor
- Large Cast Iron Skillet
- 454g (1lb) Scallops sliced thinly
- 2 limes juiced
- 1 mini cucumber cut into chunks
- 2 cloves garlic peeled
- 1 (1-inch) knob ginger cut into chunks
- 1-2 jalapeños cut into chunks
- ⅓ cup fresh cilantro tightly packed
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp ponzu sauce**
- ¼ honeydew melon rind removed and minced
- ½ Asian pear minced
- garlic chive blossoms for serving, optional
Wasabi Glazed Wonton Chips
- 200g (7oz) wonton skins cut in half on the diagonal
- 1 tbsp wasabi paste
- 2 tbsp honey
- neutral oil for frying
- black sesame seeds for sprinkling
- Place the scallops in a bowl and add the lime juice. Toss to coat. Cover and transfer the bowl to the fridge. Let chill for 45 minutes.
- While the scallops are curing, you can get to work on the wonton chips. Place the honey and wasabi in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Set it aside.
- Heat 2-inches of neutral oil in a large cast-iron skillet to 350°F. Add the wonton skins 7-8 at a time and fry until golden, flipping once halfway through. Transfer the wontons to a cooling rack over a small baking sheet to drain.
- When just cool enough to handle, brush each chip with the wasabi honey glaze and sprinkle with black sesame seeds. Repeat with the remaining wonton skins and set them aside to cool completely.
- Place the cucumber, ginger, garlic, jalapeños, cilantro, and salt in a large food processor. Blitz until the mixture resembles mulch. With the food processor running, stream in the olive oil and the ponzu sauce. Transfer the sauce to a bowl and set it aside.
- Drain the cured scallops and place them in a bowl. Add the cucumber puree, 1/2 of the melon, and 1/2 of the pear, and toss to disperse. Top the mixture with the remaining melon and pear and garnish with garlic chive blossoms. Serve immediately with a bowl of the Wasabi Glazed Wonton Chips.