Scalloping Gourmet

I have recently rediscovered scallops.As a little girl, my grandmother would sometimes buy them to accompany our weekly Friday night dinners of fish, hushpuppies, cole slaw, and vegetables of choice. My grandmother casually put one on my dinner plate when I was three years old. The round disk had been pan-fried and was the same shape, size, and color of the hash browns we used to get at the Hardee's restaurant down the street. The crispy, golden outside encased a piping hot, farinaceous inside that was always a special morning treat. I was amazed that grandma had taken the time to make hash browns for our sea-fare. I popped the "hash brown" into my mouth and was greeted with the bitter, fishy taste of a scallop. I immediately cried foul and my grandmother explained to me that it was a scallop. Seafood. I was mad at grandma. At the scallop. And my dinner. I swore off scallops for 23 years. In 2008 they have resurfaced as a delectable little treat that can only be described as: "Yummy."

I have issue with fleshy foods. I like seafood, but only in small quantities. I only order popcorn shrimp from the children's menu and gingerly eat those with what else? A shrimp fork. The crayfish and crawdads my Creole cousins pile on their plates don't make it past the preliminary perusal of the family buffet table. I don't care that the heads, eyes, and antennae are still attached. I just don't want to sink my teeth into anything that is akin to munching on my hand.

The cute little mollusk we all know and (now) love came back in a surprise visit while I was cooking dinner for a co-worker and his family.

I made flounder in a tomato creole sauce and thought it ingenious to add sauteed bay scallops to the plate. I wasn't planning on eating them. The dinner was for the enjoyment of my friend and his family. Dare I taste my own wares? Dare I put my lips around the very animal that made me swear off most seafood for nearly a quarter of a century? I used a full-sized four prong fork for this one, folks.
And as my tongue touched the pearlescent nugget... it melted into creamy, buttery mollusckan bliss. I have arrived. Or at least the scallop did.

Needless to say I have a new recipe for sea scallops.
It can be used as an appetizer or a main course. It is simple so it could make the date night dinner list. And to be honest, you can cut out the middle man and use Pacific Natural Foods Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup and then it makes the"We-only-have 20-minutes-so-let's-hurry-this-up-or-I-will-starve" dinner list.

Pan Seared Scallop in Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Sauce Serves 2

1 small head garlic
1/2 lb plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
1 large red bell pepper (1/2 lb)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
3 tb parsley, chopped fine
1tb butter
1tsp olive oil
2-4 sea scallops, cleaned, muscle removed

Preheat oven to 375°F.
Cut off and discard top of garlic head and wrap remainder in foil. Arrange tomatoes, cut sides up, in a foil-lined 13- by 9- by 2-inch baking pan and sprinkle lightly with salt. Add whole bell pepper and garlic (in foil) to pan and roast vegetables in middle of oven 1 hour.
Cover pan with foil, then let stand about 20 minutes. Unwrap garlic and squeeze roasted cloves from skin into food processor. Peel pepper, discarding stem and seeds, and transfer all the pan's contents (juice and all) to a food processor or blender.
Add lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste, then purée sauce until smooth. Using a sieve or mesh strainer, strain sauce into serving dish or other container. Use a ladle, spoon, or rubber spatula to press sauce though. Garnish with parsley during service.

Pat scallops dry and season with salt and pepper. Heat butter and oil in cleaned skillet over high heat until hot but not smoking, then sear scallops, turning over once, until golden brown and almost cooked through, about 4 minutes total. Transfer to a plate.

Pour sauce slowly onto plate so that it surrounds the scallop.

The finished product.

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About the author

Nikki Miller-Ka

Nikki Miller-Ka

Ms. Miller-Ka is a classically trained chef with a BA in English from East Carolina University and a Culinary Arts Associate Degree from Le Cordon Bleu-Miami.

Formerly, she’s worked as a researcher, an editorial assistant, reporter and guest blogger for various publications and outlets in the Southeast. She has also worked as a catering chef, a pastry chef, a butcher, a baker, and a biscuit-maker. Presently, she is a food editor, freelance food writer, and a tour guide for Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tours.

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  1. That looks pretty darn yummy! I too have this love hate thing with scallops and I only have enjoyed them a few times in my life - but I revisit them often, because I figure they must be good since so many people like them!

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