p Picks and Pecks: recipe: scallops

Saturday, March 2, 2013

recipe: scallops

I received a bag of frozen scallops, bought (from all places) the wet market! I'd never cooked scallops at home before, so I quickly flipped through my copy of Gourmet Today to see if I could put together anything from the contents of my fridge. 

Oops. Maybe it was harder than I thought. I wanted to do the scallops justice since it was the first time I was cooking them at home, and a simple stir fry seemed too commonplace. 

I took inspiration from two recipes: 1) zucchini and saffron vichyssoise with scallops and 2) sea scallops with cilantro gremolata and ginger lime beurre blanc.

Since I didn't have the required potatoes for the vichyssoise, I decided to sear the scallops and serve them on a thin layer of egg with a citrus sauce, based off the ginger lime and saffron flavours in the two recipes.

  • 3 eggs
  • chicken stock (optional)
  • 9 scallops
  • 2 shallots
  • 1 inch piece of ginger
  • pinch of saffron
  • 1 lemon
  • white wine
First thing I did was to prepare the steamed egg layer, one dish at a time. I used a ratio of 1 egg to an equivalent amount of water/stock. 

Note: This is essentially the same ratio for a Japanese egg custard or chawan mushi, except for that you might want to use a bonito broth instead of just water. 

Crack the egg into a small bowl and measure out an equivalent volume of water (or chicken stock) and gently beat the mixture. Take care to minimize frothing - if you want, you can also pass the mixture through a sieve to remove any membrane. Place the egg mixture in a bowl (preferably ceramic) over a pan of simmering (not boiling!) water. The reason is that the ceramic bowl will conduct heat slower, and the simmering water will ensure that the egg is heated slowly and evenly - too much heat will result in the water in the egg mixture boiling, which will result in a lumpy surface. Ideally, the bowl should look smooth and opaque once it is done - under 5 mins per bowl in my case, since the layer was very thin.

Next I prepared the sauce using lemon zest, diced shallots and ginger and lemon juice. I added some white wine as well and let the shallots  and ginger soften so that the tastes would mellow out and the sauce would be tangy but not to sharp. As a finishing touch, I added a small pinch of saffron as I thought the yellow from the stamens would be an inviting contrast to the pale eggs.

Just because I wasn't making a vichyssoise didn't mean I had to exclude the zucchini. I sliced them thinly and then cut them again cross-wise to add a bit of color and texture to what otherwise would be quite a "soft" dish.

Actually, amid all this prep, the scallops were least labor-intensive component! I patted them dry, seasoned them with salt and some ground white pepper and seared them on a really hot pan. About 30 seconds on each side were all they needed. I arranged the scallops on the bed of egg, and added the zucchini to the side. The sauce was strained of its components and then drizzled on top of the egg.