A properly cooked scallop is one of the finest foods you can put in your mouth. My preference, pan-fried scallops cooked in butter, develop a rich brown crust while retaining a soft tender interior. They have a natural sweetness and taste of the sea without being fishy. Scallops aren’t very complicated to make. All that’s required is a hot pan, some butter and a few minutes time.
Scallops can be purchased as “wet packed” or “dry packed”. As the name implies, wet-packed scallops are sold in a brining solution that has a milky consistency. The brine contains a preservative that prolongs the shelf life but causes excess water to be absorbed. While they often cost less, the taste is never as good and you’re still paying for the extra water weight. Most importantly, when cooked the excess moisture leaches out and prevents the scallops from developing a delicious crust. Even though I knew all this, I still bought wet-packed scallops this Summer from a well-regarded seafood distributer. The end result proved that it doesn’t matter where you get your scallops, wet-packed don’t turn out as good.
Here in Austin, the scallops sold in the store are usually previously frozen. Buy frozen if you can’t find fresh, provided no extra preservatives or water is added. You can defrost the scallops when needed, and don’t have to worry about how long they’ve been sitting in the grocery display case.
This dish is versatile because you can substitute regular oranges, mandarins, and even grapefruits for the blood oranges. Meyer lemons have a bright lemon flavor without the acid of regular lemons. Substitute regular lemon juice if Meyer lemons aren’t in season or readily available. If using regular lemons, taste the vinaigrette and add a little honey if it’s too tart.
- 2 scallions, green portions only
- 2 blood oranges (substitute any sweet citrus)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon minced shallots
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice (use regular lemons if meyer are not available)
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1/8 cup crushed roasted pistachios
- 1 pound diver scallops
- Cut the scallions into thirds. Then cut down the length of scallion to create thin strips. Submerge the scallions in a bowl of ice water and they will curl up. Drain and dry.
- Segment the oranges by cutting off of the tops and bottoms. Lay the cut side down on the cutting board and cut off the skin and white pith. Cut out the orange segments by cutting between the membranes.
- Heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the shallots and sweat until they soften but not brown, about 90 seconds. Add the garlic and cook for an additional 30 seconds. Turn off the heat and add the lemon juice and dijon mustard and whisk until emulsified.
- Meanwhile heat a large frying pan over high heat. Pat the scallops dry with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper. Once the pan just begins to smoke add the butter and the scallops. Cook for 90 seconds per side. For very thick scallops, cook an additional thirty seconds.
- Divide the scallops and supremes between the plates. Drizzle a few teaspoons of the warm vinaigrette over each plate (there will be extra so that you can add more to taste). Sprinkle on the pistachios. Top each scallop with some scallion curls.