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Appetizers, Fish and Shellfish

Cauliflower beignets with sea scallops and golden raisin puree

Cauliflower beignets with sea scallops and golden raisin puree
Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times

Deep-frying is the bacon of cooking techniques: It makes everything taste better. Do it with beignets, though, and you get the irresistible results in a more lyrical package. The word is almost as satisfying to say as the real thing ... Read more

Total time: 1 hour, 25 minutes | Serves 4
  • 1 cauliflower head
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • Sea salt
  • Finely ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon pink peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon Sarawak peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon white peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns
  • 2 cups golden raisins
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for deep-frying, divided
  • 3/4 cup semolina flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 5 ounces ( 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons) beer
  • 5 ounces ( 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons) Perrier
  • Flour for dredging the cauliflower beignets
  • 12 scallops

Step 1Cut the cauliflower in half, reserving half for later use. Chop one half of the cauliflower into florets, and combine with the cream in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. When the cream begins to simmer, reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and continue to cook until the cauliflower is tender and a knife pierces easily, 20 to 25 minutes. Puree the cauliflower and cream in a blender until smooth. Remove to a medium bowl, and adjust the consistency if necessary with extra cream so the puree has the consistency of a thick sauce. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Step 2Grind all of the peppercorns in a spice grinder or coffee mill to a fine powder. Set aside.

Step 3Place the raisins in a small pan with enough cold water to cover and heat over high heat until the water comes to a simmer. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, and cook until the raisins are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain the water, and puree the raisins in a blender until smooth, then pass through a fine sieve. Adjust the thickness of the puree if necessary with a little water to give it the same consistency as the cauliflower puree, and season to taste with the ground peppercorns. Set aside.

Step 4To make the cauliflower beignets, take the remaining cauliflower half and break it down into small florets about the size of popcorn. In a small soup pot of boiling water, blanch the florets until crisp-tender, about 4 to 5 minutes. Drain the florets and place in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain well again and place in a large bowl.

Step 5Heat about 3 inches of olive oil in a large pot until a thermometer inserted reads 375 degrees. In a medium bowl, sift together the semolina flour, cornstarch and curry powder. Stir in the beer and Perrier until the batter is smooth. Toss the cauliflower florets in enough flour to lightly coat, then dip them, a few at a time, in the beignet batter. Fry the battered florets 1 to 2 minutes until golden brown, making sure they do not stick together when frying. Carefully remove with tongs or a slotted spoon and drain on a paper-towel-lined sheet pan. Continue until all the florets are fried.

Step 6Season each of the scallops with a light pinch of salt and a small grind of pepper. Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large frying pan until hot, then add the scallops, a few at a time. Cook the scallops until golden and just cooked through, a couple minutes on each side.

Step 7To serve, place three scallops in the center of each of four plates. Run a spoonful of each of the two purees along either side of the plate. Divide the cauliflower beignets equally among the four plates. Serve immediately.

Note: From Maze restaurant chef de cuisine Josh Emett in New York.


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