Serrano Scallops and Coquilles St. Jacques À La Provençale

I'm a firm believer in two seemingly contradictory tenets.
1. Never change a traditional recipe that has survived over 100 years, and
2. Always innovate recipes and stay attuned to our changing planet.

When I first started making "coquilles St. Jacques à la provençale" I followed Julia Child's recipe religiously, just as I read it in her "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" and as I watched her make it on TV. I've never changed a thing and it's always delicious, beautifully so. In this I agree with Mexican Chef Iliana de la Vega who always says that if you want to fiddle around with traditional recipes, for example, Mexican mole, go ahead and do so.
"Just Don't Call it Mole!" That's tenet #1.
As for tenet #2, I took Julia Child's recipe and surrounded the flavors with a background of serrano chile flavor. Solid flavor, but still a background. I did this in two ways. First I added finely diced serrano chile, no seeds no membrane, to the sauce. Second I served it with a white rice pilaf in which the liquid had an infusion of serrano chile. The dish has an overall earthiness and lift that is in keeping with Texas and Northern Mexico. But I'm not calling the dish "à la provençale." I choose to call it Serrano Scallops.

Today I'm finding recipes for "scallops á la provençale" that include tomatoes, a quintessentially Mexican product. (Julia Child does not and so I never do.) But here's the question that brings together both tenets: Should the tomato-inclined cooks name their dish " "provençale-mexicaine" since tomatoes are a Mexican staple? No, because they are not copying any Mexican dish, they are making their own, but this time with ingredients available in a new and changing world. I'm in Texas and Northern Mexico where I keep out the tomato and add Serrano chile.
Voilà, Serrano Scallops!

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This page contains a single entry by Adan Medrano published on April 4, 2011 3:55 PM.

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