This week at the Santa Monica Farmers Market, Chef Jason Park of the recently reopened restaurant Maru told us that early season English peas were available at McGrath Family Farms.
Some of you may remember Chef Park from his popular Ramekin days in Los Feliz, or the original Maru location in Valencia. Drawing from his own unique cultural background of both Korean and Japanese influences, coupled with French culinary traditions learned in cooking school, Maru’s menu boasts a cocktail program designed by Matt Biancaniello and features both ike-jime sushi, as well as more western-style entrees inspired by seasonal farmers market produce like Chef Park’s Seared Scallops and English Pea Ravioli.
A regular at the Santa Monica Farmers Market, Chef Park has a long list of favorite vendors for each of the ingredients that he sources for Maru. From McGrath Family Farms peas to Harry’s Berries strawberries and everything in between, he knows what he likes and has explanations for why he likes the things that he does. Just try engaging him in a conversation about why he’s selected any of his ingredients, and you’ll see.
But perhaps what’s most surprising is his process for making his English Pea Ravioli filling. Rather than simply pulsing whole peas in a mixer (as most of us would probably do), he blanches his peas first to remove each pea skins one-by-one. While this may seem like a painstaking process, we questioned if, in fact, it was actually worth the effort. Chef Park had us do the taste test, of course, and we admit—there was, in fact, a difference in the clarity of flavor and creaminess of texture to his English pea filling.
Clearly, it’s a labor of love.
Seared Scallops & English Pea Ravioli
Yield: About 4 servings
English Pea Ravioli Ingredients
1 lb English peas, puréed and pushed through a tamis or fine mesh screen
4 oz mascarpone 2 tbsp fresh Italian parsley, minced
½ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp + 1 pinch freshly ground black pepper
4 oz English peas, peeled 3 oz red onion (approx. 1 small), diced to 1/8”
1 pack gyoza skins
To prepare the peas: In a food processor, pulse together the peeled English peas (reserving a few extra for texture later), mascarpone, minced parsley, sea salt and black pepper until smooth. Transfer the puréed peas to a bowl and add the reserved whole peas and red onion. Mix together.
To assemble: In the center of each gyoza skin, place a tablespoon of the pea mixture. Using the tips of your fingers, dab the edges of the gyoza skins with a little water. Place another gyoza skin directly on top and squeeze the edges together to seal the filling within the ravioli.
Steam the ravioli for about 4 minutes. Remove them from the steamer once the gyoza skins turn translucent.
Yield: 4 servings
Jason looks for U/10 dried scallops at Maru. “Dry scallops” expel less moisture and are not chemically treated, as opposed to “wet scallops,” which are nearly impossible to sear because of their moisture retention. U-10 is a size designation that indicates how many scallops it would take to make up a pound in weight. (Rule of thumb: The smaller the number, the bigger scallops.)
If you can’t find U/10 scallops, look for the largest ones you can find and ask for “dried.”
12 U/10 dried scallops
Sea salt, to taste
Ground white pepper, to taste
Process: Melt the butter on high heat in a heavy pan until it starts smoking. Cook them to med-rare in a heavy pan and let it rest until it cooks to med. Make sure to sea salt and pepper (ground white pepper) the scallops immediately before cooking.
Note: Clarified butter is better than any oil because it tends to stick less to the pan. Use a stainless steel pan and not a non-stick surface.
Brown Butter Ravioli Sauce
The key to building your flavor base is to reduce the liquids in stages, as indicated below.
¼ lb butter
½ cup garlic, minced
8 slices ginger, cut to 2½” squares of toothpick thickness
1 whole white onion
10 fresh parsley stems
5 sprigs fresh thyme
1½ cup chardonnay
1½ cup sake
1 cup mirin (Japanese sweet cooking wine)
1/8 cup usukuchi (light) soy sauce
6 cup chicken stock
1 pinch white pepper
1½ cup manufacturing cream
5 pods vanilla beans
¼ tsp chili flakes
To make the sauce: Melt butter in a sauce pot over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger and increase the heat to medium high, stirring occasionally. As soon as the garlic begins to turn a light golden brown, add the white onions, parsley stems and thyme sprigs. Sweat the onions until translucent, but do not brown them.
Add the chardonnay to the pot and reduce the liquid by half. Then, add the sake, mirin and usukuchi (light) soy sauce, reducing the liquid again by half. Next, add the chicken stock, also reducing by half. Finally, add the white pepper and manufacturing cream and reduce the total volume once more by half.
Scrape the vanilla beans into the sauce, including the pods, and allow to steep for 30 minutes. Whisk the sauce to break up the seeds. Add the chili flakes and boil mixture for 5 minutes before removing the pot from heat. Cool pot in an ice bath and refrigerate covered overnight.
Next day: Remove and discard the layer of solids that have risen to the surface. Strain the sauce through a fine mesh sieve.
When you’re ready to cook the scallops and ravioli, heat and reduce the sauce by half. Turn off the heat and add salt to taste. Add a little butter to taste (one tablespoon at a time) and whisk briskly until fully incorporated. Be sure that the butter is full incorporated before adding more.
Ladle sauce over the Seared Scallops and Pea Ravioli.