Foie gras and diver scallops with fig puree and watercress

Time 35 minutes
Yields Serves 4
Foie gras and diver scallops with fig puree and watercress

Cut the stems off of the figs and cut the figs in half. Place the figs in a medium saucepan with port wine and shallot. Tie the peppercorns, thyme, clove and star anise up in a small square of cheesecloth; add it to the figs.


Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until 1 1/2 cups of the liquid remains, about 25 to 30 minutes.


Remove the spice bag and puree the mixture in a food processor until smooth. Strain it through a mesh strainer. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside one-half cup for the recipe. Any remaining fig puree can be refrigerated and served with grilled meats such as pork, chicken or duck.


Rinse the watercress under cold running water. Break off any tough stems. You will have about 6 cups. Put the cleaned watercress in a salad spinner to remove excess moisture or pat dry on paper towels. Cover and refrigerate with a damp cloth until ready to assemble the plates.


In a small bowl, combine the balsamic vinegar and minced shallots. Whisk in the olive oil in a thin stream until emulsified and season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.


Season the scallops and foie gras with kosher salt and pepper. Let the scallops stand at room temperature to temper before sauteing. The sliced foie gras should be kept refrigerated until ready to saute.


Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add the clarified butter and swirl to coat the pan. Add the scallops to the pan, leaving space between each scallop to achieve a nice golden sear. Lower the heat to medium and continue to cook 2 minutes until the scallops are golden brown and release easily from the pan. Turn and sear on the second side 2 to 3 minutes. The scallops should feel slightly soft to the touch. If they feel rubbery, they have cooked too much.


Remove the scallops to a plate and let stand while preparing the foie gras.


Wipe out the pan, return the pan to the heat and add the foie gras, leaving space between the slices.


Sear about 1 minute on each side. Remove to a cutting board and cut the slices in half.


Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the warm fig puree onto the center of each plate spreading out in the center. Toss the chilled watercress with the dressing and divide onto each plate. Put two scallops on each plate; one on each side of the watercress salad. Place a piece of foie gras next to each scallop.


Slightly reduce the one-fourth cup balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan, 1 to 2 minutes. Drizzle balsamic vinegar around the outer edge of each plate.

From Michael Mina of Michael Mina in San Francisco. Foie gras is available at Surfas in Culver City and Nicole’s in South Pasadena.

Betty Hallock was the deputy Food editor, covering all things food and drink for the Saturday section and Daily Dish blog. She started at The Times in 2001 in the Business section and previously worked on the National desk at the Wall Street Journal in New York. She’s a graduate of UCLA and New York University.
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