Make this elk and sea scallop dinner for a unique and enticing take on surf and turf

Chef David Wolfman's dish effortless meets all of our dinner party show-stopper requirements.

Chef David Wolfman's dish effortless meets all of our dinner party show-stopper requirements

We love this take on surf and turf from chef David Wolfman’s new cookbook Cooking with the Wolfman: Indigenous Fusion because it seems to effortlessly tick off all of our requirements for the ultimate dinner party dish. It’s impressive and eye-catching, yet uses ingredients mostly found in our pantry already. It’s substantial, yet elegant enough to fit into a perfectly portioned Parmesan cup, instantly upping our presentation game. It’s unique enough to bring some serious wow-factor to any menu. On top of all that, the recipe perfectly embodies Wolfman’s aim to fuze flavours from his First Nations roots with a touch of modern culinary flair. What more could you ask for to anchor your feast?

Elk and Sea Scallops in a Parmesan Cup with Chili Lime Vinaigrette

By David Wolfman

The “medallion” is a thick-cut round of meat that comes from the narrow end of a tenderloin, which is why it is also known as a tenderloin steak. This is a delicate and tender cut of meat that needs little cooking to show its glory.

Sea scallops are much bigger than bay scallops, and the largest wild sea scallops come from the cold, deep waters from Newfoundland down to North Carolina. If you buy frozen scallops, defrost them in the fridge and use them the day you thaw them. For this recipe, you can buy either an elk tenderloin or striploin steak and cut it into four.


Parmesan cups:

  • 2 cups grated Parmesan cheese


  • 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tsp chili sauce
  • ½ tsp honey
  • Pinch table salt
  • Pinch fresh ground black pepper


  • ½ cup mustard shoots (or pea shoots or sprouts)
  • ½ cup watercress (or arugula)


  • 4, 1 oz elk medallions (or striploin medallions of the same size)
  • 4 tbsp pure olive oil, divided
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 tsp crush garlic
  • Pinch kosher salt (or sea salt)
  • Pinch fresh ground pepper

Wet scallop brine:

  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt (or sea salt)
  • ½ cup hot water
  • 3 ½ cups ice water


  • 4 1 oz sea scallops
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp lime zest
  • ¼ tsp chili flakes
  • Pinch kosher salt (or sea salt)
  • Pinch fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil


Note: This is a fairly complicated recipe suitable for when you have extra time to prepare it and enjoy it afterwards.

Preheat oven to 350F.

To make the cheese cups, evenly sprinkle the grated cheese in four circles (the size of large pancakes) on a parchment paper–lined baking sheet. Bake for three to four minutes, or until lightly brown. Invert four small glasses or cups on a separate baking sheet. Using tongs, gently remove each round of cheese from the pan and carefully place over the glass bottoms; transfer the baking sheet to the fridge so that the cheese hardens into bowls.

Make the vinaigrette by whisking together the oil, lime juice, parsley, chili sauce, honey, and salt and pepper. Toss salad ingredients in the vinaigrette and chill.

Combine the elk, half the olive oil, rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper in a bowl and marinate in the fridge while you prepare the scallops.

If you bought pricier “dry” scallops, meaning they have never been treated with chemical additives, skip this step. But if you bought “wet” scallops, which always come with a milky white liquid, you will need to soak them in a brine before cooking so that they sear properly.

To make the brine, combine the lemon juice, salt and hot water and stir to dissolve the salt. Then add the ice water and stir. Pour brine into a tall bowl. Add the scallops and ensure that the brine covers them. Leave scallops in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Rinse scallops and lay them on a baking sheet lined with a couple of layers of paper towel. Put more paper towel on top of the scallops and press down on them to squeeze out moisture. Let them drain for a few minutes.

Place the scallops in a bowl and marinate them in lime juice, lime zest, chili flakes, and salt (leave out salt if you brined the scallops) and pepper in the fridge, in a nonreactive dish (glass, ceramic or stainless steel) for 20 minutes.

Remove the scallops and elk from the marinades (discard the liquids).

Heat a cast iron pan for 10 minutes over low heat. Raise the heat to high and add the vegetable oil. Wait until it starts to smoke before searing the scallops for three minutes on one side, and let cook without disturbing. Check one scallop to see that it has a caramel coloured crust before turning them all over to cook for two minutes on the other side. Remove scallops from the pan and set aside to keep warm.

Cook the elk medallions in the same pan over high heat for one minute, using the remainder of the olive oil before turning over to cook for one minute more on the other side. Let meat rest for a few minutes before slicing.

To prepare each serving, layer some greens inside a chilled cheese cup, add some meat slices and a scallop, and top with pan drippings.

Excerpted from Cooking with the Wolfman: Indigenous Fusion by David Wolfman and Marlene Finn. Copyright © 2017 David Wolfman and Marlene Finn. Published by Douglas and McIntyre Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

Servings: Makes 4 servings


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