Scallops can be a sweet, simple treat and the real star of a meal. Sear them with a little salt and pepper or cover them with a flavorful saffron sauce. They're even great smoked, on top of a salad.
Scallops cook quickly and they make for the perfect easy, summer meal. Here are four recipes to try for dinner tonight.
Scallops with saffron sauce
Total time: About 45 minutes
Note: Adapted from a recipe for the film from the French Culinary Institute. In the film, the secret ingredient to the saffron sauce is kaffir lime leaves. They are included as an optional ingredient here. Fresh kaffir lime leaves can be found at Bangkok Market in Hollywood and West Central Produce as well as some farmers markets.
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup finely minced shallots
1 pinch saffron threads
1 fresh kaffir lime leaf, lightly crushed (optional)
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold butter, cut into pieces
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1. In a medium heavy-bottomed sauté pan, combine the white wine and shallots over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer. Reduce until about 2 tablespoons of liquid remain, several minutes.
2. Add the saffron and optional kaffir lime leaf. Reduce the heat to medium and add the heavy cream, whisking to combine. Add the butter, a few cubes at a time, whisking to incorporate it into the sauce. Add a few more cubes as each batch is incorporated, and watch that the sauce never comes to a boil. When all of the butter is incorporated, strain the sauce through a fine-mesh strainer into a small sauté pan over low heat.
3. Add the lemon juice, a pinch of salt and small pinch of pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. If the consistency is a little thick, thin it out with a little water, 1 teaspoon at a time, whisking to incorporate. Remove from the heat and set aside in a warm place. (Makes about 1 cup.)
Seared scallops and assembly
1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
3/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon finely chopped lemon zest
16 sea scallops, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
4 teaspoons lemon juice
1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, oregano, pepper and lemon zest. Roll the scallops in the mixture until lightly coated on all sides.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a medium heavy-bottomed skillet or frying pan over high heat until shimmering. Add 8 scallops to the pan and sear on all sides (about 1 1/2 minutes on each side). Remove the scallops from the pan and set aside in a warm place while the remaining scallops are cooked. Add the rest of the olive oil to the pan and repeat with the remaining scallops.
3. Toss the scallops lightly with the chopped parsley and lemon juice. Place 2 to 3 tablespoons of the sauce on each plate. Depending on the size of the scallops, place 2 to 4 scallops on each plate. Serve immediately.
Each of 8 servings: 248 calories; 6 grams protein; 6 grams carbohydrates; 0 fiber; 22 grams fat; 12 grams saturated fat; 59 mg. cholesterol; 491 mg. sodium.
Baby scallop ceviche
Total time: About 1 hour
Note: Adapted from Las Ventanas al Paraiso
1 pound, 5 ounces cleaned bay scallops
3/4 cup lime juice (from about 8 limes)
1/3 cup minced red onion
1/3 cup seeded and diced tomato
1/2 cup peeled, seeded and diced cucumber
1 seeded and diced jalapeño, or to taste
Scant 1 cup diced cilantro, from about 1 bunch
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. In a medium bowl, marinate the scallops in the lime juice for 30 minutes, covered and refrigerated, tossing every 10 minutes.
2. Strain and save the lime juice. Stir in the onion, tomato, cucumber, jalapeño and cilantro. Stir in the olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper, and add back lime juice to taste as desired. Serve immediately.
Each serving: 238 calories; 26 grams protein; 8 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 11 grams fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 49 mg. cholesterol; 2 grams sugar; 244 mg. sodium.
Seared scallop salad with mango and fruit vinaigrette
Total time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
3/4 cup puréed strawberries
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint
1 teaspoon minced lemon grass
2 tablespoons chopped shallots
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup passion fruit vinegar or other fruit-flavored vinegar
1. In a blender, combine the strawberry purée, sugar, mint, lemon grass, shallots, lemon juice and vinegar. Blend to a smooth consistency. Season with salt and pepper.
1 cup green beans, blanched
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons minced lemon grass
2 teaspoons minced garlic
3 cups chopped chicory, green tops trimmed
1 cup sliced mango
1/4 cup radish sprouts (kaiware)
1. In a vegetable steamer, bring water to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to simmer, place the artichokes in the steamer basket, cover and steam until a fork easily pierces the bottom of the heart at the stem, 25 to 35 minutes. Remove the artichokes and let cool. Break off the artichoke leaves to expose the fuzzy choke. Scrape away the choke with a spoon, leaving the heart. Cut off the stem and slice the artichoke heart into one-quarter-inch pieces.
2. Bring a pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add a little salt and the green beans. Blanch until the beans are done but still crisp, about 3 minutes. Drain in a colander and immediately plunge into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.
3. Combine the olive oil, lemon grass and garlic in a bowl. Add the scallops and mix well. Season with salt and pepper. Place a sauté pan over high heat. When hot, add the scallop mixture and sear the scallops, turning once, until browned at the edges on both sides, about one minute per side. Transfer to a plate and keep warm.
4. Combine the artichoke hearts, green beans and chicory in a bowl and mix with 6 tablespoons of the vinaigrette. Divide the salad among 4 plates and top with the mango and radish sprouts. Arrange the scallops around the salad. Drizzle the plates with some of the remaining vinaigrette, or serve alongside (you will have some dressing left).
Each serving: 312 calories; 16 grams protein; 56 grams carbohydrates; 13 grams fiber; 5 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 20 mg. cholesterol; 258 mg. sodium.
Alder-smoked salad with fennel salad
Total time: 45 minutes
Note: When buying scallops, look for "diver" or "dry-packed" scallops; these scallops are fresh with no added liquid, and their flavor is noticeably sweeter. This recipe calls for a commercial stove-top smoker; a heavy-duty roasting pan with a rack and lid can be substituted. This recipe uses small hardwood alder chips; the chips are available at select cooking stores and are widely available online.
1 large head fennel (with fronds)
2 teaspoons minced shallots
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
Fleur de sel
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
8 large scallops, about 1 pound
1 blood orange
Small hardwood alder chips
Toasted slivered almonds
1. Trim the fronds from the fennel and mince. Measure one-half teaspoon and place in a medium bowl (discard any remaining fronds, or save for another use). To the medium bowl, add the shallots, lemon zest and juice, one-fourth teaspoon fleur de sel and pepper to taste. Whisk in the olive oil slowly to emulsify and form a dressing. Taste, and adjust the seasoning as desired.
2. Trim the fennel and quarter it lengthwise. Slice the fennel lengthwise into paper-thin strips; if possible, shave using a mandoline. You will have about 3 cups. Place the fennel in a large bowl and toss with enough dressing to lightly coat. Taste and add additional dressing if desired. Cover the fennel salad and any remaining dressing with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
3. Remove the scallops from the refrigerator and set them out to warm slightly while you slice the orange.
4. Supreme the orange: Slice the top and bottom from the orange. Using a sharp paring knife, slice lengthwise between the flesh and rind to remove the peel, rind and outer membrane. Slice the flesh of each segment from the center membrane, so each segment is "skinless."
5. Season the scallops with a good pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper on each side.
6. Prepare the smoker: Spread about 2 teaspoons wood chips in the center of the base of the smoker, directly over the burner. Place the drip pan (if using) over the chips, and a rack on top of the drip pan. Place the scallops on the rack (place them off to the side, not directly over where the chips will be smoking), leaving enough room around them so all sides smoke evenly. Place the lid on the smoker, leaving about 2 inches uncovered.
7. Place the smoker over medium heat just until the chips begin to smoke. Cover the smoker entirely with the lid and reduce the heat to medium-low. Continue to smoke the scallops just until they firm up slightly and are barely opaque in the center, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and uncover the smoker.
8. Divide the fennel salad between 4 chilled plates. Place a few orange segments over each salad, and top each portion with 2 smoked scallops. Sprinkle a few almonds over each, and drizzle any extra salad dressing around each plate. Serve immediately.
Each serving: 240 calories; 20 grams protein; 15 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams fiber; 11 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 37 mg. cholesterol; 4 grams sugar; 360 mg. sodium.