I am Top Chef obsessed. Always have been. I’ve watched them all. My favorite, of course, were Top Chef Canada, because I loved seeing my local chefs (whose work I was a big fan of) shine on a national level.
The Top Chef Canada franchise only lasted 4 seasons, sadly, but just recently, they brought it back, with Top Chef Canada All Stars.
A couple years back, I got to attend a Top Chef event that featured the food of the ladies who had competed. One of my faves on the show was Lauren Marshall, who has been the only vegan, as far as I know, to compete. There was this one episode where she made a vegan scallop dish, and we got to try it that night. It was amazing.
Fast forward to a couple weeks ago when I got invited to a lunch at Diva at the Met. Now, we have some great restaurants here in Vancouver, but weirdly, Diva was a place I had never eaten at, and upon reflection, I’m not sure why. The food was wonderful, and they represent all the things I love: they cook locally, in season, and they strive to make as much as possible in-house (including these incredible chocolates made by their pastry chef!).
One dish that was served at the lunch was a scallop atop a kind of salsa made from avocado, hearts of palm and cucumber. I was determined to veganize it.
The key to vegan scallops are King Mushrooms. I had to go to a few places before I found them, but I eventually found them at a little Korean produce store in my ‘hood. When you slice the stems into rounds, they look exactly like scallops. They even have that slightly rubbery bite that you get with scallops. They are dead ringers.
Given that rhubarb is so in season right now, I wanted to incorporate it into the recipe as well.
You could serve this on a platter (like the Diva version) or as I did, in individual portions on spoons. Either way, it’s an elegant starter for your next party. In fact, I think I’ll serve this at my book launch!
- 4 king mushrooms
- 1-2 stalks rhubarb, cut into 1/2″ squares
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup vinegar (preferably apple cider)
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tsp coarse salt
- Olive oil
- 1/2 avocado, cut into 1/2″ squares
- 1/2 cucumber, cut into 1/2″ squares
- 1/4 cup edamame beans or fresh corn
- fresh chives or green onion
- Quick pickle the rhubarb. In a small saucepan on the stove, heat together the water, vinegar, sugar and salt until they are all melted together. Bring just to the boil. Place the rhubarb in a heat-proof bowl and pour the pickling liquid over it and allow it to stand while you do the rest of your prep.
- Chop the avocado and cucumber, and place in another bowl. Add the edamame and stir well.
- Top and tail the king mushrooms. Set aside the caps and ends for another use. Cut the mushroom in half and then each half into halves, giving you 4 circles of mushroom stem.
- Heat a heavy frying pan over medium-high heat, and add oil to the pan. It’ important that the pan and oil are hot to get a good sear. Place the mushrooms into the pan, and allow to cook for about 3-4 minutes. Season with salt and a little garlic powder. Once they are caramelized on one side, flip, and allow to cook to a similar doneness on the other side.
- Drain the rhubarb, reserving some of the pickling liquid. Add the rhubarb, a little of the pickling liquid and some olive oil to your salsa, and stir well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Place the salsa on a plate in a pile, and then top with “scallops.” Garnish with sliced green onions or chives.