Friday, August 19, 2005

No more soggy scallops!

On the forum discussion at Chocolate & Zucchini (see the link on the side bar) there is a discussion about how hard it is to get scallops browned.

Here is the secret to nicely browned scallops: there are two ways to buy them. "Dry" refers to scallops that are fresh and not "processed." Processed scallops, which is what you ALWAYS get in big bags frozen at Costco, Sams, etc., have had a solution of salt and preservatives injected to keep them "fresh."

"Dry" doesn't mean how much you blot them 'cause you can blot the processed ones until the cows come home and they will still weep in the pan and keep from browning until they are too tough to be appetizing.

Dry scallops cost more, often as much as half again what the processed ones cost, but you don't lose all that water in the pan, and they brown beautifully and are still perfectly tender in the middle. The best are U-10, which means in a pound, there will be 10 or fewer. We order them regularly for our customers. Outside Memphis, you may have to seek out a good seafood shop to find them but once you've had the good ones, you'll never go back!

Here is a recipe I rather like. I did this for a cooking demonstration on Live@Nine at the Peabody Place a couple of months ago. Usually we are out in the atrium but that day we were filming under an overhang. I was about halfway through my spiel with hosts Mary Beth and Alex when the vapors from the pan set off the smoke alarms throughout the whole complex. So in the background, you could hear the horns going off: "Honka-honka-honka, please evacuate the building in an orderly fashion," and so forth. Mary Beth said "just keep going," so I did. Fire Department came...what a bunch of handsome young devils! I said "I confess, I did it! Wanna frisk me?" They decided to settle for a sample of the scallops instead. Oh well....

Yield: 6 Servings

2 tb Olive oil
2 tb Unsalted butter
1 1/2 lb Sea scallops; patted dry
6 tb Lime juice
8 tb Lime ginger butter
1/2 cup Walnuts; lightly toasted
Parsley; minced for garnish

8 tb Unsalted butter; room temp
4 ts Grated lime zest
2 ts Ground ginger
1 ts Salt
1 ts Pepper

Stir all ingredients for the ginger butter together in a small bowl. Shape into a log on plastic wrap, wrap and refrigerate until firm.

Heat the oil and butter in a large skillet over high heat. Add the scallops and cook, turning once, until golden, about 2 minutes. Pour off the fat. Stir in the lime juice and cook 1 minute. Turn the heat to very low, and stir in the lime-ginger butter (cut into slices) 1 tablespoon at a time. Cook just until the butter melts enough to make a thick sauce. Remove from heat and stir in the walnuts. Serve at once, sprinkled with parsley.


ChristineVB said...

Alyce - where do you recommend as a good place to buy quality seafood in Memphis? And, do you have any recommendations of online/mail order places that will ship fresh seafood?

Alyce said...

Christine, I have found all the places to buy, the supermarkets and specialty food places, to be unreliable as far as quality goes. I would certainly counsel you not to buy from any of them on Monday; the product has almost certainly been there since Thursday or Friday.

I am amazed that Memphis doesn't have a good retail seafood place, but we do order for our customers, with a one-day notice required.

I did a Google search for "fresh seafood" and found it quite expensive, but with a pretty wide selection available from a number of sources.