Courtesy David Castro Hussong, chef/owner, Fauna, Valle de Guadalupe
This dish makes the most of brown butter, used both to poach the scallops and braise the charred eggplant for the purée. The menu at Fauna changes constantly, but this dish is almost always available.
David Castro Hussong
Hussong, an Ensenada native, comes from a family whose restaurant is often credited with inventing the Margarita in the 1940s. At 28 years old, he’s one of the region’s most acclaimed chefs. Fauna is the restaurant at Bruma, a stunning hotel and winery, but it is quickly becoming a destination in itself.
Published: February 21, 2019
In seasoned cast-iron or nonstick pan over medium-high heat, add eggplant in a single layer. Cook, in batches if necessary, until charred on all sides, about 10 minutes total. Set aside.
Wipe pan clean, and reduce heat to medium. Add 6 tablespoons butter and cook until it just starts to turn golden and smell nutty. Add eggplant, and stir well. Reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until eggplant becomes completely tender, about 10 minutes. Add vinegar and ½ teaspoon salt, and cook 2 minutes.
Transfer eggplant to blender. Purée until completely smooth. Thin with water if mixture becomes too thick to blend. Add more salt and/or vinegar, to taste. Cover blender jar to keep purée warm. Warm sauté pan over medium heat, and add remaining butter. Cook until it just starts to turn golden and smell nutty. Add 2 tablespoons lemon juice and scallops. Turn heat off, and stir gently until scallops are heated through. Add salt, to taste.
Mound eggplant purée in shallow serving bowl or divide among 4 individual bowls and cover with scallops. Sprinkle with 1½ teaspoons lemon zest and parsley. Serve with warm tortillas. Serves 4.
Bodegas Henri Lurton 2017 Vino Naranja (Valle de Guadalupe). This natural orange Chardonnay is macerated for a month on its skins, fermented with wild yeasts, and neither filtered nor clarified. Orange wines can be terrific with rich shellfish meals, as they have the body to stand up to heavier dishes without obscuring the seafood’s delicacy.
“This wine has both freshness and tannic structure to balance the lusciousness of the toasted butter in the scallops,” says Hussong. “It enhances the depth of the dish the way a red wine would, but at the same time, its crispness complements the scallops’ minerality.”
Lourdes Martinez “Lulu” Ojeda
Ojeda spent 15 years in Bordeaux, where she studied enology and worked a decade for owner Henri Lurton at the Grand Cru Classé Château Brane-Cantenac in Margaux. The two saw the potential of Baja California, so Ojeda returned to her hometown of Ensenada and started the winery in 2014. The elegance of her wines and a willingness to share knowledge has made her one of the region’s most admired winemakers.