Santa Barbara Sea Urchin à la Jean-Georges

Santa Barbara Sea Urchin à la Jean-Georges

 Santa Barbara Sea Urchin à la Jean-Georges
Black Bread, Butter, Jalapeño, Yuzu, Maldon Salt

I was sitting in the dining room of my virtual restaurant, the Borage & Basil Bistro, reading about Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Santa Barbara Sea Urchin.

“This dish is the perfect example of how uncluttered Jean-Georges’ cuisine is, as well as the volumes he can make his dishes speak. The bright iodine from the uni marries perfectly with the buttered pumpernickel toast. It’s just delicious from both a textural and flavorful standpoint,” said Chef Wylie Dufresne.

Contemplating getting on a plane to NYC to try this utterly sublime dish, it occurred to me how silly it would be to travel across the country from LA – to eat Santa Barbara uni! 

Not only is the uni local, we also have the rare yuzu tree (an important component of this dish) growing in our garden. So that is how Santa Barbara Sea Urchin à la Jean-Georges ended up as the appetizer on tonight’s dinner menu at the Borage & Basil Bistro, this summer’s virtual restaurant where all the menu items feature fresh snipped herbs, exotic ripe fruits, and edible flowers from our garden.

With its salty, clean ocean scent and hues of gold and deep orange, its sweet, exotic, haunting taste and creamy, buttery texture – the captivating sea urchin roe makes for an elegant appetizer, indeed.

Santa Barbara Sea Urchin à la Jean-Georges Recipe

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Buchu Jeon {garlic chive blossom pancake}

Buchu Jeon {chive blossom pancake}
Buchu Jeon

부추전

{garlic chive blossom pancake}

A popular Korean ahn-joo (snack enjoyed while drinking), Buchu Jeon is a savory garlic-chive pancake often paired with makkoli (rice wine) and served with a soy dipping sauce. My unusual addition of pungent chive blossoms makes for a pretty presentation while enhancing the garlic-onion flavors of the jeon.

I’ve heard that the invitation to go enjoy buchu jeon on a rainy day is synonymous with “let’s go have a drink” for Korean adults. Hopefully this crispy-chewy pancake with petite white flowers will help brighten your stormy days…Cheers!

garlic chives, buchu jeon
Buchu Jeon Recipe

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An Elegant Little Starter: Scallop & Melted Leek Pasta

scallop, melted leek pasta, elegant first course, valentine's day appetizer

Pan-Seared Sea Scallop over Melted Leek Pasta
Lemon Creme Fraiche, Caviar, Celery & Garlic-Chive Flower Garnish

An opalescent sea scallop sits atop a dreamy melted leek angel hair pasta. Glossy black caviar and lemony cream fraiche adorn the scallop. Pretty white garlic chive blossoms and pale green celery leaves finish the dish.

These dry pack, wild caught, Atlantic sea scallops retail for well over $20/lb. U10 sea scallops are the largest available and have a sweet, rich buttery taste. They contain no preservatives or additives and will not ooze liquid during the cooking process, unlike wet scallops that have been soaked in a phosphate solution. Dry scallops caramelize naturally during cooking to a gorgeous golden brown crust. Though definitely not inexpensive, this luxurious dish can be made for just over $3 per plate by using black lumpfish caviar rather than the more extravagant sturgeon varieties. Black lumpfish caviar is clean and crunchy with a pronounced salty sea flavor.

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