Stalking Padma in the Kitchen: The Main Course


Welcome to Part 4 of our special series, in which I bastardize Padma Lakshmi’s recipes and then judge her on the results.

I’ve been crazy for scallops lately, so this week I took a stab at Miss L’s Sea Scallops with Crushed Peanuts and Cucumber Relish. Padma Says:

“I stumbled on adding the peanuts because I wanted something crunchy that would offset the soft, voluptuous nature of the sea scallops yet still echo their butter flavor.”

First of all, how great is this woman? Who else would call a sea creature voluptuous? Hysterical.

Honestly, this sounded like another pretty crazy idea from Padma. I love scallops, cucumbers, and peanuts, but altogether? Really? Well, if Padma says so, I’m willing to give it a try…

First she breads the scallops in a mixture of bread crumbs, cayenne, sea salt, and mango powder. The woman actually writes: “If you don’t have mango powder, you can use sumac.” Oh gee thanks Padma, because sumac is another thing that I just happen to have lying around. As you can see, my breading had a little trouble sticking, but I still really liked this method, adds just a little something extra to the scallops.

The relish is made from cucumbers, heirloom tomatoes, brown sugar, dill and lime juice. I know, holy flavor combo, right? I couldn’t resist adding in a roasted red pepper because, well, I just have to put them in everything. I also forgot to get any limes, so I insane-d it up even a bit more and added in the only citrus I did have: kiwiberries. This was one of those out-there purchases that I bought just cuz I saw them at the co-op and didn’t know what the eff they were. Basically, they are kiwis but in berry size, although the skin is edible. Did we really need some mad food scientist to create kiwiberries? No. But hey, we apparently have them now, so eat up. In my lazy, lying-even-to-myself mindset, I decided kiwiberries were probably a good stand-in for lime juice and mango powder. Does that even half make sense?

So again, I won’t give you Padma’s whole recipe (you gotta buy the book for that!), but basically you just sautee the scallops up real quick, top ’em with that relish, and then crush the peanuts on top of everything.

The Result: Well, clearly I deviated from her instructions even more than usual on this one, but I loved it. The crunch with the scallops actually works, and the whole dish tastes so light and fresh even though it’s actually a fairly rich thing to eat. I don’t know if I would call it voluptuous, but I sure will be making this again. Maybe I’ll even find me some mango powder.

Grade: Four Padmas (out of a possible five)


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  • gansie November 4, 2008  

    um, i’ve never even heard of mango powder. did you research it at all?

  • vio November 4, 2008  

    wow.. could the relish stand on its own as a side salad?

  • BS November 5, 2008  

    g – I am kind of intrigued about mango powder, but I approached it more as a “come on, Padma, why the hell would I have that?” Lemme know if anyone knows where to get that.
    Vi – the relish could def work as a salad – or maybe even with scallops cut up in it as a cold, ceviche-like salad?

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