I’m still on my healthy eating kick to get in shape for the summer, but refuse to resign myself to just baked chicken breasts and steamed broccoli. This recipe was exactly what I needed tonight – something that involves a little bit of real cooking, fresh seafood, and a ton of flavor. I will have to keep this one in mind for the upcoming summer evenings.
Makes: Awesome dinner for 2
Total kitchen time: 45 minutes
- 4 large, or 10 small, sea scallops
- 2 tbsp. safflower oil (or peanut oil, but don’t use olive oil)
- 1 medium shallot
- 1/4 cup pineapple, finely diced
- 1 tbsp. freshly grated ginger (substitute 1/2 tsp. ground ginger, only if you must)
- 1 tbsp. lemongrass, finely chopped
- 1 tsp. cilantro, finely chopped
- 1 tsp. honey
- 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 tsp. sesame seeds
- 1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp. + 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (use the best you’ve got)
Optional side: 1/2 lb. french beans
- Peel the shallot and slice crosswise into thin discs, about 3mm thick. Place the sliced shallot, 1 tsp. of olive oil and a pinch of salt in a small skillet and bring to medium heat. Cook the shallot for 5-7 minutes until it has softened, but has not browned. Remove from heat.
- In a small bowl, combine the cooked shallot and the rest of the ingredients for the salsa. Whisk together with a fork and adjust to taste by adding more honey, vinegar or salt.
- Wash, trim and steam the french beans. Remove them from the heat before they’re done cooking (still a little crispy) and run them under cold water to halt the cooking process. Set aside to dry.
- Meanwhile, heat the safflower oil in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over high heat. I highly recommend you use a cast iron skillet, both for its heat retention and for its natural non-stick nature. Bring the oil just below its smoking point – you should see light whisps of smoke, but not much more than that.
- Ensure the surface of each scallop is as dry as possible to encourage browning. Place the scallops in the pan, leaving plenty of space between each one. Don’t touch them for 60 seconds – they’re busy forming a golden crust and if you move them, you risk tearing it away. After 60 seconds, lift the edge of one of the scallops to check for brownness. If it is golden brown, flip it over and give it another 90 seconds. If not, let it sit for another 30 seconds. Cooked scallops can still be translucent in the middle, but cook them to a doneness you’re comfortable with.
- Remove the scallops from the pan and turn of the heat. Toss in the french beans and let them sizzle for about a minute, soaking up the great flavor the scallops have left behind.
- To plate, lay down a pile of beans and divide the scallops between two plates. Top with the salsa mixture, and a little extra sesame seeds, if you so desire.
If scallops aren’t your thing, try this recipe with jumbo prawns, calamari, or even grilled octopus! I can’t wait to bring a batch of that salsa to the next cookout and discover what else I can top it on.