Culinary sophistication meets summer flavors with the prettiest plating!
Seared sea scallops are decadent yet uncomplicated, something we often order from a fine restaurant but equally attainable at home. Beurre blanc, a white wine butter sauce, is something rarely made at home and today perceived as perhaps old fashioned. This recipe is nothing short of fresh and sophisticated, bright and somehow light thanks to the combinations of cooked and raw, rich and clean. The perfectly seared scallops anchor the dish, while the summer melon salsa is punctuated with mint chiffonade and lime to offer a pleasing pop of color and flavor. The beurre blanc is classically made, but garnished with raw, halved sugar snaps. Each element compliments its counterpart, raising the composition to new heights.
Equipment: cutting board; chef’s knife; wet and dry measuring cups; measuring spoons; small mixing bowl; spoon; medium sauté pan; wooden spoon; large sauté pan; tongs
Ingredients for the melon salsa:
½ cup finely diced cantaloupe
½ cup finely diced honeydew
½ cup finely diced watermelon
8 mint leaves chiffonade
juice of half a lime
kosher salt freshly ground black pepper
Ingredients for the beurre blanc: 2 shallots, finely minced ¼ cup dry white wine
¼ cup white wine vinegar or rice vinegar 1 stick (8 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into 8 tablespoons
kosher salt and ground white pepper juice of half a lime
Ingredients for the sea scallops:
½ pound sea scallops, approximately 10-12
kosher salt freshly ground black pepper
2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil
5 halved sugar snap peas
2 mint sprigs
1. First prepare the melon salsa. In a small mixing bowl, combine the melons with the mint chiffonade. Stir in the juice of half a lemon, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
2. Next, begin to prepare the sauce. Place the shallots, wine, and vinegar in a medium saucepan. Turn the heat to medium-high and simmer until all but one tablespoon of moisture remains. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
3. Now make the scallops. Pat the scallops dry using paper towels. Sprinkle the tops and bottoms generously with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Set aside.
ILOC tip: if you can procure "dry scallops" - scallops that have not been treated at sea with a water/sodium solution. They caramelize and sear so much more beautifully than "wet scallops," the ubiquitous white scallops you usually see at the store. But if wet scallops are all you can get, be sure to pat them bone-dry before you cook them.
4. Place a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot add the vegetable oil and swirl to coat the pan. Add the sea scallops in a circle around the perimeter of the pan without crowding or adding any in the center. Cook for 1-2 minutes per side, undisturbed without moving them, to achieve a golden brown surface without overcooking.
ILOC tip: only the presentation side of the scallop needs to be beautifully seared. Do not turn the scallops until they achieve that desired color. If it takes 2-3 minutes, then you need only cook them for 30 seconds to a minute once turned. Target the result more than the timing.
5. Place the cooked scallops on a dish covered loosely with foil while you finish the beurre blanc.
6. Return the pan with the shallot reduction to a medium-high heat. Once sizzling again, add 1 tablespoon of cold butter to the pan, lower the heat to medium-low and incorporate into the reduction by swirling with a wooden spoon. Once the butter has been incorporated, add the next tablespoon in the same manner. Repeat until all of the butter has been emulsified in the sauce so that when you run your finger through the back of the spoon coated in beurre blanc the sauce holds its shape.
7. Remove the pan from the heat and add the lime juice, kosher salt, and white pepper to taste. Add more lime juice, if desired, but do so carefully so that the sauce remains emulsified and does not "break."
8. Divide the melon salsa amongst the centers of two plates. Spoon beurre blanc generously around the melon salsa. Place 5 scallops on top of the beurre blanc of each plate. Garnish each plate with five snap pea halves, and a mint sprig in each of the mounds of melon salsa. Serve immediately.
Makes 2 servings.