The size and quality of your nonstick skillet is key to creating a rice disk that is cooked and crunchy and brown all at the same time. The width of the skillet should be 9 inches across on the bottom (a standard measurement), not across the upper rim. Use a heavy-bottomed, high-quality skillet with no scratches so the rice cooks evenly and you can easily get the disk out of the pan. Once it’s mixed, don’t let the rice and herb salad sit too long before serving to ensure the rice stays as crunchy as possible.
Crispy Rice and Herb Salad with Scallops
In a large skillet measuring no more than 9 inches across the bottom (not the upper rim), add the rice and 1 1/4 cups water. Season the water with salt and stir everything to combine. Place the skillet over high heat and bring the water to a simmer. As soon as it is evenly simmering, cover it with a lid and reduce the heat to the lowest setting. Cook the rice, undisturbed and without removing the lid, until no more liquid remains in the pan, about 15 minutes.
While the rice cooks, combine the parsley, cilantro, basil, mint, shallot and chile in a bowl. Keep refrigerated until ready to use.
Remove the lid, and place the small butter cubes around the edge of the rice against the side of the skillet, so the butter melts and slides under the rice (picture that you’re placing a butter cube at each hour-marker on a clock face). Then increase the heat under the skillet to medium and continue cooking, covered, for 10 minutes. Uncover the skillet and continue cooking the rice, rotating the skillet over the burner every couple minutes to ensure even browning, until it’s crunchy and golden brown on the bottom, 8 to 10 minutes more. You should be able to slide a small spatula under the edge of the rice and lift it up as one disk. Remove the skillet from the heat and slide the rice disk onto a cutting board.
Return the skillet to high heat and add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season the scallops with salt and pepper. Once the oil in the skillet begins smoking, add the scallops and cook, undisturbed, until golden brown on the bottom, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Flip and cook for 1 minute more, then use tongs to transfer the scallops from the skillet to serving plates.
Remove the bowl of herbs from the refrigerator and squeeze the lemon juice over the herbs. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and toss to dress the herbs. Break the rice disk into bite-size pieces and add them to the herbs, tossing to combine. Divide the herb-and-rice mix among the plates next to the scallops to serve.