Wine is often paired with food, but it can be inspiring to take a bottle of wine as the starting point and try to cook something that will go well with it. Oak barrels can give a hint of vanilla to wines, and so I thought it would be fun to make a vanilla cream sauce to go with a creamy oaked chardonnay. It worked out really well, and the pairing was outstanding. The wine went well with the vanilla creaminess of the sauce as well as with the seafood. The combination of scallops with parsnip and peas is something I’ve used successfully before. This is a nice secondo piatto for an elegant dinner party.
3 fresh sea scallops (in or out of the shell, but definitely not frozen)
6 jumbo shrimp with shells and heads (if you can’t get shrimp with the heads on, substitute shrimp stock with homemade fish stock)
120 ml (1/2 cup) cream
300 grams (.67 lbs) peas (fresh or frozen, not from a can)
300 grams (.67 lbs) parsnips
1 vanilla bean
salt and freshly ground white pepper
5 Tbsp clarified butter
4 Tbsp cognac or brandy
a bit of the white wine you’ll be serving with the dish
1 shallot, minced
pinch of sugar
Sieve the shrimp stock. Reserve the vanilla bean. Let the heads cool off until they are cool enough to handle, and squeeze all of the juice out of the heads into the shrimp stock. (Yes you will be eating shrimp ‘brain’. It is delicious!)
Preheat the oven to 60C/140F.
Heat 2 Tbsp clarified butter in a non-stick frying pan over very high heat. Add the scallops and shrimp and cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
(While I am writing this, I think that if you have enough space in your oven, it would be even better to do the plating with the pea and parnip purees and the seafood at this point and put the plated plates into the oven.)
Let the sauce simmer to thicken a bit. Sieve the sauce to remove the shallots and vanilla bean.
Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt, freshly ground white pepper, and lemon juice (if needed).
Since this dish was created to go with a complex oaky butter chardonnay, that is what it should be paired with. This Cuvée Bois from Les Crêtes in the French-speaking Valle d’Aosta in North-West Italy was an excellent combination.