Saturday, February 26, 2011

Seared Scallops with Blood Orange Gastrique

I found some beautiful blood oranges at the market the other day, and wanted to find a fun way to use them. Today at the fish market, I saw some gorgeous scallops, and the recipe was born!

Despite a somewhat fancy name, this is actually a super easy dinner, and if you only count the active prep time, it's very quick, too.  The hubby gave this rave reviews, and it's fun to serve your man a fancy looking meal :)

For the Gastrique:
  • Juice of one blood orange
  • 1 cup of fresh orange juice
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • Sprinkle of white pepper
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
Combine all of the ingredients in a sauce pan and stir to dissolve the sugar.  Put over medium high heat and bring to a boil. As soon it reaches a boil, reduce the heat to low so that the mixture simmers.  Let it simmer until it reduces by at least half (approximately 20 minutes).  Once it reaches a nice, intense color and becomes a bit syrupy, remove from the heat, add little bit of S&P, and set aside.  You can finish the sauce by whisking in 2 T of butter to make it a bit richer, if you want (but that's not necessary, or very authentic).  Now it's time for your scallops!

  • 8 large diver sea scallops (4 per person is a dinner-sized portion)
  • S&P
  • Olive Oil.
Pat the scallops with paper towel until they are very dry. Then sprinkle with a bit of S&P.  Put a large sauté pan over high heat, and add enough olive oil to be able to coat the bottom of the pan.  Set your temperature to high, and let it get screaming hot (you'll see a bit of smoke coming off the oil).

As soon as this temperature is reached, put your scallops in the pan, flat side down. Make sure they aren't touching and have plenty of room between them, otherwise they will steam and won't sear well. If you need to, break this up into 2 batches.  They will splatter and sizzle and pop, so stand back!  Let them cook for 2 minutes, then flip.  Let them cook for 2 minutes on that side, and then remove and set onto your plate.  Spoon the Gastrique over them, and serve immediately.

I served a scoop of citrus salad on the side.... unfortunately only had ugly romaine hearts in the fridge... it would have been super over frisée or other crunchy mixed greens...... recipe for this:

Citrus Dressing:
  • 1/4 Cup Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice
  • 1/4 Cup Rice Wine Vinegar
  • 2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp Dijon Mustard
  • S&P
  • 1/2 cup walnut oil
Use your favorite salad greens, and add some citrus wedges (sans membrane) and shaved red onion.  Toss well, and enjoy!

* A Note on Scallops:

When picking scallops, there are a few things to look for:
Dry or wet:  If possible, get scallops that are "dry" - a.k.a. not sitting in a bowl of liquid.  They're best when just sitting on ice.  That's because when in a liquid, the scallops tend to absorb it. The liquid is somewhat briny, and this can affect the taste of the finished product, and the increased moisture content can also make it more difficult to get a nice sear.
Color:  Get nice warm-white colored scallops.  Any uneven coloring, brownness, or graying should be avoided. Shiny is good. 
Smell:  When scallops are fresh, they will have a nice sweet, not fishy, but oceany smelll.  Ask your fish monger to hand you a scallop to let you smell it if you wish.  That's totally acceptable!
Texture:  They should always be nice and firm.