Sophisticated Savories

Sophisticated Savories

Saturday, February 16, 2013


Perfectly seared scallops… how can something be so simple, yet wonderfully complex? Yes, I touched on this topic a few days ago, but here are a few more secrets in order to develop a brilliant crust on both sides of your mollusk. To me, there is no better fish to consume than a perfectly cooked scallop (though crab and shrimp are also favorites). First of all, it is essential to remove the small “catch muscle” which resembles a strained tab, running from the top to bottom of the scallop (on the side). Thou small, this part of the muscle is very strong… it is the only part of the scallop that is used to keep it’s shell clamped shut in order to defend itself from predators. Think about it… when muscles are used, they become firm and more fibrous… {“I-I-I, I work out.”} Ergo, if one were to consume this small attachment, it would be an unpleasant experience (very “chewy”). Simply grab the small tab firmly and pull away from scallop to discard. Use a paper towel to dry off scallops (if they are too damp when cooking, then will boil… no crust will be created). Sprinkle each side with freshly ground sea salt and a minute dusting of cayenne pepper (to give an underlying heat, though just a pinch). Heat a cast-iron skillet (can also be a regular sauté if cast-iron is not an option… though gravitate away from non-stick if possible) on high heat with 2 tsp butter. Wait for the butter to begin to brown and foam (Known as “Beurre Noisette” in French). As soon as smoke begins to radiate from the sauté pan, place the scallop on the pan. The sear will begin immediately… but do not touch the scallop… simply let it cook for about a 1.5 minutes. Flip scallop. A golden brown crust should be staring you in the face. Nicely done. Allow the scallop to continue to cook for an additional 30 seconds – 1 minute (depending on thickness). Sometimes I will actually flip the scallop, allow to cook for about 20 seconds on the heat, then remove the pan from the stove top. Since the sauté pan is still hot, the scallop is going to continue to slowly cook… penetrating the middle of the scallop with a moderate heat, as opposed to high heat (high heat being if you placed it in the oven… that would overcook the delicate fish). Cook scallop to your desired liking… I prefer for mine to be almost fully cooked… warm in the middle, yet not overcooked… enough for you knife to cut through like butter :) Gourmet mushrooms (though pricey), are brilliant with scallops… sweat shallots with almond oil, then add trumpet mushrooms, lemon juice, smoked sea salt, herbs de Provence and a touch of cayenne pepper/Cajun seasoning… deglaze with red wine, then continue to cook until tender… add spinach and cook until wilted, then carefully pile on center of plate. Tilapia is a wonderful fish to serve with scallops… season with fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, basil, etc), then top with seared scallops. Pomegranate seeds aid in adding a pop of color, as well as brightness from their fruity bite. Reduced balsamic adds the final underlying sweetness as a perfect sauce. I encourage y’all to continue to experiment and gain more confidence in the kitchen… it truly is a beautiful thing when crossing the line between following a recipe and confidently creating your own masterpiece. 

Love y’all! ♥

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