Monday, February 9, 2009

Seared scallops in lemon-shallot sauce

Cravings are funny things. Where do they come from? Why one thing and not another?
I get cravings a lot. Popcorn, chocolate, steak, cheese.
They just pop up for no particular reason.
But my recent craving for scallops... That I can blame on "Top Chef."
They have been cooking a lot of scallops on that show this season.
"It'sa notta 'Toppa Scallopsa!' It'sa 'Toppa Chefa!" according to contestant Fabio.

So when I was planning dinner yesterday, I decided to give in to the craving and make a scallop appetizer.

Seared scallops in lemon-shallot sauce

Makes 4 appetizer servings

1 tablespoon olive oil
8 large scallops
sea salt
1 tablespoon butter
3 tablespoons minced shallots
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/3 cup dry white wine (I used chardonnay)
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon finely chopped Italian parsley
about 4 small handfuls of baby arugula

Heat oil in a large nonstick saute pan over medium-high heat.
Lightly salt and pepper the scallops on both sides.
Add scallops to pan. To get a good sear and good color on them, do not move the scallops.
After about 2 minutes, turn the scallops over and let the other side sear about 2 minutes.
Remove scallops from pan and place in a covered bowl to keep them warm.
Turn heat down to medium and add butter to melt.
Add shallots and garlic; saute 1 minute.
Add wine and lemon juice, cooking 1-2 minutes until liquid reduces by about half.
Stir in parsley.
Return the scallops to the pan and turn to coat with the sauce.

To serve:
Divide arugula among four plates.
Put two scallops on each plate.
Drizzle sauce over scallops and arugula.
Serve immediately.

This was perfect.
The flavors were all perfectly balanced: just enough lemon, just enough garlic. And the shallots were sweet and not too strong of an onion flavor.

I thought about using mixed baby salad greens, but went with baby arugula for its slight peppery flavor and the fact that it does well when wilted a bit by the warm sauce.

I could eat this all the time.

It probably would also make a very nice main dish to make extra sauce and a couple more scallops each and serve it all, including the arugula, over a bed of angel hair pasta.

I have made scallops before, but this is the best preparation I have tried as far as ease and taste go.