Peter Serpico has history as a Franken-chef, with a penchant for creating foods that wouldn't exist without some culinary reengineering.
But there's always flavorful method behind the mash-up madness, as I saw with his latest tasty monster, the "scallobit," a morsel of dewy fresh Maine halibut crusted with sweet minced scallop.
The pairing showcases Serpico's mantra that "super slow" cooking over moderate heat is best for seafood, versus the more common technique of searing to a crisp over blazing heat.
The scallop protects the lightly brined fish as it cooks slowly, and, together, the duo create a canvas of luscious seafood purity - moist and subtle - that allows bold garnishes to really spark.
I loved the nutty shaved Brussels sprouts tingling with a pinch of mustard powder. But the most striking touch was the sheet of gelled kimchi juice (set with heat resistent agar-agar) draped over the mild scallobit's corner like a fire-engine red skin, with the expected heat, but also a twinge of lingering fermented funk.
Normally, this dynamic bite is exclusive to Serpico's exceptional multicourse $125 tasting menu, but it will be available a la carte for this week only until March 10.
- Craig LaBan
"Scallobit," $20 a la carte until March 10, Serpico, 604 South St., 215-925-3001; serpicoonsouth.com