Scallops with an Apricot Grill Sauce
for Seafood for the Future
A guest post by my good friend Wink (and his wife Pattie)
Jan. 21, 2011
For starters, this would be a great recipe for those wanting to impress an important friend or someone with the potential to be special. (Debi’s note: Hey, all you single people out there, make this for your dates!) It’s simple and quick to prepare, it’s loaded with flavor and can be used as a salad or main course. And it’s pretty. Either way, it’s guaranteed to please.
While the label said U-10-20 (meaning there should be between ten and twenty of this size scallops per pound) Wild-Caught Scallops, the firm-to-the-touch, stark white pieces varied a bit in size and shape, which is to be expected. If they all are exactly the same, they may not actually be scallops…. A quick rinse and a pat dry with a paper towel yielded a slightly tacky sensation.
This dish requires a slight amount of easy prep work—just light chopping and a little measuring, and the only special kitchen tool you might have to get ahead of time is a zester, (it looks like a real fine cheese grater). A sharp chef’s knife sure makes the chopping a lot easier (see below for some knife suggestions). Oh yeah, make sure you have a nonstick pan with a thick, even heating bottom (it doesn’t have to be an expensive “name brand” to produce good results). Nonstick tongs for the nonstick pan will avoid scratching the pan’s surface.
Put together the sauce ingredients prior to cooking the scallops so both can cook at the same time. When it comes time to heat the pan, don’t be afraid to follow the recipe’s instruction to heat the pan on high. High heat and a relatively quick cooking time is important so the scallops remain tender. You might want to turn on your exhaust fan because this procedure will generate a bit of light-colored smoke. A good way to lessen the smoke’s impact in your kitchen is to put some water and white vinegar in a small saucepan and simmer it on the stove (this works to get rid of most fish-cooking smells). (Debi’s note: Awesome tip, thanks!) The three-minutes a side cooking instruction gives a nice brown color to the finished scallops without making them tough to chew (a hazard of overcooking).
The grapeseed oil coupled with the nonstick pan yielded easy to turn scallops; no sticking at all for me. This is the first time I’ve ever used grapeseed oil, always having been a fan of clarified butter for high-heat cooking. The grapeseed oil is a lot less work (because clarifying butter takes time) and I like the light flavor it offers.
I’ve long enjoyed cooking and eating Cajun and Creole dishes because of the way the flavors impact different taste sensors on my tongue and I also like the way you can manipulate the texture. Seafood for the Future’s ”Four Step Pantry” (which I learned thanks to their web site) allows the same basic sensations to happen in much subtler ways with fish. Cool!
When it came time for plating, plain white plates with greens arranged in the center made for a nice background to the browned scallops and the reddish-colored sauce. My wife seemed impressed.
The first bite resulted in a bit of OMG take-your-breath-away satisfaction with the effort as the scallop seemed to melt in my mouth in an explosion of flavor as all tongue sensors were firing at once. While I definitely could have eaten more than the three scallops, the meal was really satisfying as it was. In this case, less was more.
The dish was complemented with green beans that previously had been blanched (briefly cooked in boiling water then plunged into ice water to stop the cooking—makes for bright green vegetables that are easy to use later) which were quickly sautéed with finely chopped garlic and shallots in clarified butter and seasoned with a bit of kosher salt and fresh-ground pepper.
This recipe is a keeper. In fact, I’ve already shared it with my scallop-loving next-door neighbors. Bet you do too.
Wink’s wife’s reaction:
My husband, Wink, made us a wonderful meal, Friday night. In my opinion, he is one of the better chefs I know of.
He was asked to prepare a “Sustainable Seafood” dinner for us, by the Aquarium of the Pacific. What he prepared was Wonderful!
As I was nestled at my computer far from the action, he prepared an incredible meal of scallops that melted in your mouth! The sauce was made of apricot & orange with some honey mixed in with a dash of A-1 sauce, balsamic vinegar and a few other ingredients that when placed on the scallops and put in your mouth burst with unbelievable flavor! I was Quite Impressed! He placed the three scallops on a bed of mixed lettuce & radicchio that made the scallops look like a flower coming out of its leaves! Beautiful! Then the green beans, that had been sautéed in garlic & shallots complimented the entire meal.
I can’t wait for the next “Sustainable Seafood Meal!”
A bit about knives:
Here’s a picture of my three favorite knives, all bought at restaurant supply stores instead of department stores or kitchen specialty shops. They are made by Forschner and feature Victorinox stainless steel blades, the same blade as in a Swiss Army knife. The Fibrox/Nylon handles are easy to keep clean, a critical factor if food safety is important to you. They are far less expensive than the name brands that are touted as being the best, and if you did a survey, I bet you would find far more Forschner knives in professional kitchens than any other brand.
All my knives are about 15 years old, and all still hold a sharp edge well. Of course they are well-cared for, living flat in their own drawer where they don’t get banged around, and none of them have ever visited an automatic dishwasher. My good knives NEVER get to work on anything but food—no opening of packages, letters, or anything of the sort.
Forschner chef’s knives come in a variety of lengths; my preference is the 10 inch model because I’m tall and like the leverage it provides. The boning knife comes in handy when working with meats and the “bird’s beak” paring knife has found more uses than I could list.
Knives are a lot like golf clubs. Some people think a great club will make them a great golfer when actually they might be better off buying less expensive clubs and investing the difference in a lesson or two. Knives typically are used for slicing and chopping stuff, and usually the final verdict on a meal hangs on its flavor and presentation. Hmmmm…maybe an investment in technique would provide a bigger return. Food for thought anyway.
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- 6 large sea scallops size u10
- 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
- Salt and pepper
- 1 orange - zest and juice
- 1 tablespoon ketchup
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 6 dried apricots finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon A-1 sauce
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon cilantro chopped
- Crusty Bread
- Place all the ingredients for the apricot sauce, except for the cilantro, into a small saucepan, and simmer over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes (roughly the time it will take to cook the scallops).
- Heat a large nonstick pan over high heat, and add the grapeseed oil. While the pan is heating, pat dry the scallops with a paper towel so that they are almost sticky to the touch, and season with salt and pepper. As the pan begins to smoke, add three scallops to the hot oil and sear on both sides for about 3 minutes per side. The scallops will brown significantly. Place the 3 scallops on a plate, cover with a dish towel, and cook the remaining three scallops in the same manner.
- To finish, place the scallops on a plate with the greens and the crusty bread. Add the cilantro to the apricot sauce, and drizzle the sauce over the scallops. Serve immediately.