Monday, May 02, 2005

J’accuse!

I know the photographs of foods in the various food-porn I subscribe to (last time I checked, Food & Wine, Gourmet, Bon Appetite and Saveur) are supposed to inspire one to cook, but what use are they when they don'’t accurately represent the finished dish? I accuse Eating Well magazine (note: not a magazine I subscribe to but my insanely healthy parents hand off their copy when they are done with it) of major photo-doctoring for their recipe “Miso-glazed Scallops with Soba Noodles”. Take a look at the photo below showing how different my scallops look from the ones in the magazine's photo.


White and pasty, or luscious and caramelized--which would you choose?

Yes, I used “dry” (that is to say untreated with STP) sea scallops. Yes, for once I followed the recipe instructions. But I don'’t see how any scallop could brown, much less caramelize, like the ones in the photo with the recipe as it is written. They had me marinate the scallops briefly in miso, ginger, rice vinegar, garlic, mirin and a little canola oil then cook them on medium-high heat in a non-stick pan with a little olive oil. My scallops exuded so much of their natural juices which, combined with the coating of rather wet marinade, resulted in them simmering in the liquid for the requisite 3 minutes per side. There was absolutely no way that a crust could form; if I had cooked the scallops until all the wetness boiled off, I would have had vaguely-scallop-flavored hockey pucks, over-cooked to the point of inedibility. I think that Eating Well brushed their finished scallops with a sugar syrup and browned them with a blow torch.

Other than the look of my completed dish, which was on the wan and pasty side, it tasted fine. Brian really liked it and ate 3 servings. I don’t know if I'’ll make it again because I wasn’t blown away by it and I think there are probably better ways to use a pound of huge sea scallops.

On the subject of food magazines, I will share a wonderful discovery: —you can get a subscription to some of the big food-porn publications at super low prices on the internet. If you go to http://www.magazinepricesearch.com/index.html you can find a year'’s subscription to: Saveur for $3.99 and Gourmet for $4.90. Bon Appetite is a little more pricy at $9.90 and Food & Wine goes for $12.71. Cook's’ Illustrated is the least impressive on the discount level, —at $21.94 you only save $3 off the regular subscription price. Anyway, it'’s worth checking out the prices they have listed against what you are paying for your subscriptions. Maybe you too can have a mailbox overflowing with food magazines and can save some money to spend on things like, say, insanely expensive sea scallops (for which you would find a better recipe than the one that I used.)

2 comments:

Annie said...

I don't know why exactly but the title of this post cracks me up. And let me say (again!) how impressed I am with everything you manage to do so well! By the time dinner rolls around here I'm the only thing that's done.

Mmmm, magazines. I love them. Like getting candy in the mail.

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