Sunday, January 20, 2013

Seared Sea Scallops with Tropical Salsa

These sweet, delicate scallops are fast and easy if you follow the tips for perfect results. Please try the salsa this way at least once before you try your own variations. Serves 4

1 lb *Dry* sea scallops, thoroughly rinsed and drained, tough abductor muscle removed if it's still on, dried and resting on paper towels
1 TB (+ 1 tsp) coconut oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Tropical Salsa
1/2 c red bell pepper, diced
1/2 c fresh, ripe mango, diced
1/2 c  pineapple, diced
1/2 c  cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
1/2 - 1 jalapeno, seeds and ribs removed, small diced
1.5 - 2 TB freshly squeezed lime juice
3 TB fresh flat-leaf parsley or cilantro, finely chopped
2 tsp coconut cream, warmed to liquid

Tip #1: If you can't get dry scallops, save this recipe for another time. You won't get the beautiful sear, and the taste will be off. Make sure the scallops are thoroughly rinsed; bits of sand tend to hide in the crevices.

Tip #2: Cut all the fruit and veg in the same size, it makes a prettier salsa, your measuring more accurate, and you'll have an equal blend of flavors/textures.

Tip #3: I had Jeff taste the salsa before I added the coconut cream and he insisted it didn't need a thing. So I added it to only half the salsa and when he tasted it, he agreed it was even better. I'll tell you where to find it at the bottom.

Tip #3: Use a regular skillet, not non-stick. You might need to gently coax the scallops loose with a metal spatula to turn them, but it's the only way you'll get the golden crust and caramelization. Wait until the pan and oil are hot before adding the scallops!

Ready? Combine all the ingredients for the salsa, except lime juice and coconut cream, in a 1 qt bowl. Season with salt and pepper, add 1.5 TB of the lime juice, and taste to see if you want to add more. Once you have the right amount of lime juice, stir in the coconut cream. It might harden up a little, but no biggie; just pop the bowl in the microwave for 20 seconds before serving to warm it up again and give it another good stir. Set aside.

Heat 1 TB coconut oil in a large skillet (11-12") between medium and medium-high. Wait until the pan is hot and the oil is rippling. Season the scallops generously with salt and pepper on one side, add half the scallops to the pan - no crowding! - and sear about 2 minutes until they're golden brown. Turn with a metal spatula or tongs and cook another 2 minutes until they're golden brown on the 2nd side and completely opaque. Remove the cooked scallops to a hot plate to keep them warm. Add another tsp of coconut oil to the pan if you need to, and cook the 2nd batch. Serve with salsa on the side. Click on the picture for their Hollywood close-up.

Coconut cream is the thick non-liquid part that separates and rises to the top of the coconut milk. You can buy a can of whole coconut milk and skim it off the top, or buy it packaged at most health food stores. If you buy it packaged, just put the package in a teacup filled with hot water and enough will melt to pour off. Plus, it keeps for a long time, and you won't have to figure out what to do with the rest of the can of milk.

“Dry” scallops sear better, taste better

When you’re at the fish counter, you’ll often see sea scallops labeled two ways—“dry” and “wet.” (If they’re not marked, ask.) Whenever you can, choose the dry scallops. “Wet” scallops have been treated with a solution called STP (sodium tripolyphosphate), which helps the scallops maintain their moisture (they’re made up of about 75% water when fresh). The STP solution gives scallops a longer shelf life; they don’t dry out or lose their plump appearance. As a result, you’ll not only pay for the added water weight (and often get scallops that are less than fresh), but you’ll also have trouble browning these scallops—no matter how hot your pan or oven—because of all that excess moisture. The STP solution can also give scallops a rubbery texture and cloud the flavor.

No comments:

Post a Comment