I’m a seafood lover, but it hasn’t always been that way. As children growing up in New England, my younger brothers and I were regularly given swordfish. It might sound luxurious, but at that time swordfish was a local staple caught in nearby Atlantic waters, and my mother was determined to serve us fish in the spirit of a well-balanced diet. The night of the swordfish was not a popular event.
I admit that we took drastic measures to stifle our dinner. Since this was indeed a prerequisite for our desired dessert, my brothers and I often resorted to sprinkling our swordfish steaks with ketchup (as the elder I take full responsibility). Fortunately, when the information about the mercury levels in swordfish became more widely known, it suddenly disappeared from our dinner rotation. We were not angry.
As my interest in food grew, I moved beyond my categorical aversion to seafood. I started eating white fish and sweeter seafood, the flavor of which is judged “no -fish”. And then I discovered the scallops. Sea scallops were and are unlike any other fish or shellfish I have eaten, and wonderfully a fish.
Creamy white and cylindrical in shape, they don’t even look like fish, and their flavor is deliciously buttery and sweet. When cooked through – preferably seared – they develop a crisp, caramelized crust that gives way to a juicy and tender interior. I was addicted back then and still am.
Scallops are easy to prepare in a pan. You can serve them with sauces and sides, add them to pasta and rice, or just enjoy them on their own. Their natural sweetness is complemented by bright citrus fruits and crunchy, sweet vegetables, like corn and peppers, which make for a delicious summer meal. For best results, here are some simple but important steps for searing scallops.
Line a large plate or baking sheet with paper towels. Place the scallops on the platter then place another paper towel over the scallops. Press gently to remove all traces of moisture. Let stand 5 minutes, then discard the towels. This will remove excess moisture and prevent the scallops from steaming when searing.
To input :
The best way to cook a scallop is to sear it. Use a cast iron pan if possible. Heat the pan over medium-high heat for a few minutes, then add the oil and continue heating until the oil is sparkling. Arrange the scallops in the pan without too much space. Sear, without disturbing, until a golden crust forms around the base and the scallops easily come off the pan when lifted with a spatula. Don’t disturb the scallops until they release easily! Then turn over and grab the other side of the scallop.
Choose the largest scallops you can find. Sizes range from 10 to 40 per pound. Their sizes are measured by the number of a pound and labeled U / 10, U / 15, etc. The U stands for “under,” which means U / 15 scallops will have a count of 15 or less per 1 pound. U / 10 and U / 15 are the largest and ideal for grabbing.
Seared scallops with sweet corn salad and garden salsa
Active time: 30 minutes
Total duration: 30 minutes
Yield: for 4 people
1 cup fresh Italian parsley leaves
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 jalapeño pepper, seeded, chopped
2 tablespoons of fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
A few grains of freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
Corn kernels from 2 corn cobs (or 2 cups thawed frozen corn)
2 green onions, white and green parts thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 jalapeño pepper, seeded, finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley leaves
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 tablespoon of fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon of salt, or more to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
A dash of hot sauce
16 to 20 large scallops (U / 15)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Combine all salsa ingredients, except for the oil, in a food processor and pulse to chop. Add half of the oil and mix. Add the remaining oil 1 tablespoon at a time until you get a consistency of salsa. Taste for seasoning. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
Combine all the salad ingredients in a bowl and mix. Taste for seasoning.
Dry the scallops thoroughly with paper towels. Season with salt and black pepper.
Heat a large pan (preferably cast iron) over medium-high heat. Add the oil, and when it starts to sparkle, arrange the scallops in the pan without too much space. Sear until a golden crust forms around the base and the scallops come off easily with a spatula, about 4 minutes. Flip the scallops and continue to cook until golden brown and cooked through in the center, about 3 more minutes, depending on the size of the scallops. Transfer to a plate.
Pour the salad onto a serving platter. Arrange the scallops on the salad. Pour a little salsa over the scallops and salad. Serve with the rest of the salsa.