No matter the protein, sourcing seasonal and local ingredients is a key step in showcasing a chef’s culinary talents, says Garrett Yokoyama, Executive Chef of Palos Verdes Golf Club (Palos Verdes Estates, Calif.).
“Scallops are my shellfish of choice,” he notes: “sweet yet delicate texture with a nice, hard sear crusting each side.”
His wild Maine scallops dish, with fennel purée, citrus-glazed baby carrots, roasted kohlrabi, morel mushrooms, English peas, pickled ramps and morel mushroom cream, is well-balanced in texture and flavor.
“Each of the ingredients bring a touch of freshness and spring to the plate,” he says.
Club +Resort Chef (C+RC): How would you describe the flavors?
Garrett Yokoyama (GY): The flavors of this scallop dish will provide a nice balance of acid, earthiness and sweetness, while bringing in the colors of spring in California. Spring produce pairs very well with Maine scallops in color, texture and balance. Green is drawn from the fennel purée, english peas and crisp sugar snap peas. Carrots provide a bright yellow and orange color to go along with the sweet and tangy flavors of the Cara Cara orange glaze. The earthiness and darker shades come from the morel mushrooms and cream sauce. Each ingredient compliments the other providing a well-balanced bite alongside the sweet and plump maine scallop. The pickled ramp provides some acidity to the dish, which enhances the earthiness of the roasted kohlrabi and morel mushrooms.
C+RC: What about this dish makes you most proud?
GY: I like how this dish came together with all of its components. For visuals, I added spinach to the fennel purée for a nice, green shade and the Cara Cara orange glaze for some tanginess on the baby carrots.
When creating dishes, you should always taste each individual component in addition to the final product. You may find the need to add more seasoning from salt or butter, spice from pepper or chiles, acid from citrus or verjus, or umami from seaweed or mushrooms. Dishes you create on paper don’t always work out onto the plate as expected. You may need to adjust the presentation, change the ingredients of the dish or even change the flavor profile of the entire dish.
As chefs, you must taste, taste, taste, especially when you have your sous chefs or line cooks creating menu items. Some dishes work the first time around, while other creations take a little more thought going into it. With this dish, we made a few adjustment to the individual components of the plate to make the dish balanced, including a couple different plate presentations. At the end of it all, the members were very satisfied.
C+RC: In what ways might this dish inspire other chefs?
GY: Hopefully it will inspire chefs to experiment with ingredients new to them. Whether it’s a new protein, vegetable or dry good, trial and error is the best way to learn and grow as a chef. Ingredients are so versatile in use and can be prepared so many different ways. So don’t be afraid to make a mistake; you learn from those mistakes and become better over time.