Fine food doesn’t have to be complicated food and “ah lo-o-oves me” some scallops. That little muscle that opens and closes the Coquille Saint-Jacques shell is such a tasty little morsel from the sea it needs only showcasing a bit. This quick and delicious recipe does just that.
You’ll need four or five large sea scallops per person. Some zucchini, garlic and a fresh jalapeno pepper makes the presentation bed. I added some baby bok choy on the side for a healthy crunch. And the black sesame seed garnishes while the sake takes good care of the chef. Start by clarifying some butter. If you’ve never done this it’s easy, and that nutty flavor with such a huge burning temperature is essential.
Clean your vegetables and ready them for a brief sautée. The idea is to soften them and to concentrate their flavors but don’t make anything too brown. The fresh green color and flavor is the point.
With everything nicely softened and piping hot, spoon it all into a food processor and spin it to a paste. Taste and add salt and pepper and more jalapeno if you like the warm burn. Mmmm. I do.
Keep processing until it grows creamy-fine and becomes similar in color and texture to wasabi.
Now cover and set that all aside.
We’re gonna cook the scallops.
While your clarified butter is melting and getting insanely hot, mix up a small batch of sea salt and dark brown sugar in equal parts, then coat the scallops lightly and set them into the hot butter. Be careful. You want this searingly hot so the sugar will caramelize.
Start stir frying the bok choy with garlic in a bit of sesame oil so everything comes out together. As your scallops crackle in the red-hot butter keep a close eye on them, you want them with a crust on the outside but barely cooked to translucency--even slightly raw-- through the center. And flip them with a tongs. Spearing with a fork lets the natural juices out.
Are we there yet? Great. Make a tidy pile of the warm jalapeno/zucchini purée on your plate then squoosh the scallops into it and garnish with a few sage leaves for presentation. That salty sweet crunch giving way to the creamy sea-flavored center in a bed of warm purée will have your guests swooning in no time.
The bokchoy is rather nice, too.
And the sake...(hic)... is awesome.