This dish was not just about the scallops, it was also about the warm potato salad, and the green bean, grape tomato and avocado salad that I served it with. The salad allowed me to introduce some colour, texture and freshness, as well as to use up half an avocado and my red skinned potatoes.
It's that time of year when herbs are sprouting, giving so many opportunities to add brightness and flavour bursts to everything you make. I used some fresh chives in the salad, and some fresh thyme on the scallops.
The thyme was added to the remaining zest of an already half zested lemon, and some of the four peppercorn blend used in the post Pepper Crusted Pork Tenderloin with Apple Thyme Waffles.
I had bought a bottle of roasted garlic dressing at a farmers' market, and there was about 2 tablespoons left...I added some Balsamic vinegar and olive oil to this and used it to dress the warm potatoes, and the beans, tomatoes and avocado.
Make the rub for the scallops by combining:
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon ground 4 peppercorn blend
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
1 teaspoon olive oil
Clean 10 scallops by removing the muscle on the side of the flesh, still attached. This is the little white bit in the front of the scallop in the picture.
Here is a link showing how to clean and prepare scallops for cooking:
Gently rub the lemon zest, pepper and thyme all over the scallops.
Leave to marinate while you prepare the salads.
In a pot of lightly salted, boiling water, cook until just fork tender:
2 small red skinned potatoes, diced
Drain, and leave in the strainer for 2 - 3 minutes, allowing excess water to drain and evaporate.
Place the warm potatoes into a bowl and toss with chopped fresh chives and vinaigrette. Season to taste.
In a separate bowl, combine:
a handful of grape tomatoes, halved
a handful of blanched and cooled green beans, halved
half an avocado, diced
1 teaspoon chopped fresh chives
Salt and pepper to taste
Gently toss with the same vinaigrette
Heat a pan, with a teaspoon of olive oil, until it is smoking hot.
Add the scallops, and cook, turning once, until both sides are golden and the scallops are just cooked, about 1 - 2 minutes per side, depending on the size.
Remove from the pan.
1/4 cup dry white wine to the pan.
Boil until the liquid has reduced by half.
To plate, place a handful of warm potato salad in the centre of each plate, mounding it slightly.
Top that with a handful of the green beans, grape tomatoes and avocado salad.
Place 5 scallops per plate around the salads.
Drizzle the white wine reduction over the scallops.
- Scallops can be intimidating if you have never cooked them before, as they cook very quickly and become quite rubbery and unpleasant if overcooked. High heat, for a short amount of time is the answer to this...it allows the outside to caramelize, seals in the moisture and flavour while giving the centre of the scallop enough time to cook. This should take between 1 - 2 minutes, probably around 90 seconds on average.
- There are three main types of scallops that are commonly used for cooking...the large ones I used are sea scallops, and are great for searing, grilling or using for kebabs....the small bay scallops are a good choice for adding to pasta sauces, seafood stews, soups or stirfries just before serving; they need almost no time to cook....calico scallops are still in the shell when you cook them they need to be steamed in order to open the shell, similar to mussels and clams.
- Scallops have a mild, sweet taste. They do not need to marinate for tenderness, just to add flavour, so 30 minutes is sufficient.
- These scallops can be served with a risotto, pasta or mixed green salad instead of the potato and green bean salads I served.
- The lemon, pepper and thyme rub can be used with prawns; peel them first and rub it onto the flesh, before pan frying or grilling them. It can also be used on fish such as salmon or halibut.