Cool off on steamy early-fall evenings with a scallop starter from Charleston Grill’s Michelle Weaver
(Makes 6-8 appetizers)
1 cup yuzu juice (available at H&L Asian Market)
1 fresh vanilla bean (pod split lengthwise and seeds scraped out with the back of a paring knife)
1/4 cup local honey
1 lb. fresh whole bay scallops or sea scallops, hand-diced into 1/2-inch cubes (may substitute flash-frozen scallops, thawed)
1 medium Granny Smith apple, cored, peeled, and diced into 1/4-inch cubes
2 Tbs. minced shallots
1/4 cup chopped Thai basil (available at H&L Asian Market)
Sprinkle of sea salt (Bulls Bay brand preferred)
Place the yuzu juice and vanilla bean seeds in a small container with a lid. Shake vigorously. (The citric acid will help break up the vanilla.) Once combined, add honey and shake again.
Place the diced scallops, apple, and shallots into a glass or ceramic bowl. Pour the yuzu mixture on top. Cover the bowl tightly and refrigerate, letting the scallops marinate for at least two hours or overnight (they will keep for up to one day in the refrigerator). The citric acid in the yuzu will “cook” the scallops.
After the scallop mixture is finished marinating, top the ceviche with the chopped basil. Spoon the ceviche into small bowls and sprinkle with sea salt. Serve chilled. If not serving immediately, store the tightly sealed ceviche in the refrigerator overnight.
■ Fresh is a must: Using the “freshest seafood available at the market” is vital, explains Weaver. The scallops should be completely intact (not torn) and shouldn’t smell “fishy,” but have a sweet ocean-like scent. If you’re concerned about the quality of the shellfish, you may substitute with vacuum-sealed, flash-frozen scallops.
■ Scallop 101: Sea scallops, caught in the open ocean, are much larger than shallow-water-dwelling bay varieties. Generally, sea types have about 25 to 30 scallops per pound, while a pound of bay scallops has around 80 to 120.
■ Using yuzu: You can purchase yuzu, a floral Japanese citrus, at H&L Asian Market in North Charleston or online. “If you have leftover juice, you can combine it with mayonnaise for a delicious dipping sauce for seafood or a crab salad,” Weaver notes.
■ Don’t be Thai-ed down: Weaver purchases Thai basil, a slightly spicy, anise-flavored herb popular in Southeast Asia, from H&L Market, but you can substitute 1/4 cup each of chopped sweet basil and mint.
Meet the chef: Michelle Weaver
Ask around town about Michelle Weaver, and you’ll inevitably hear in reply, “You mean Mama?” The nickname started in the kitchen at Charleston Grill, where she’s been running the show as executive chef since 2009. Originally from Decatur, Alabama, Weaver was raised on fresh vegetables from her mother’s garden and classic dishes cooked in cast-iron skillets. While she continues to serve traditional Southern fare with her own elevated spin at Charleston Grill, she also likes to experiment with worldly flavors, such as peppery Thai basil and tart yuzu juice in scallop ceviche. “It would be the perfect appetizer for an around-the-world wine tasting party,” Weaver says. Her wine pairing of choice? “2015 Selbach-Oster Riesling Kabinett ‘Halbtrocken,’” she notes.