Scallops are seen as a succulent delicacy with a reputation for being tricky to prepare, due in part to their near constant presence on Chef Ramsey’s many reality cooking shows (don't get me wrong I adore the guy). Of course if you’re one of the poor shmucks getting screamed at and have dozens of tickets on your line they could end up scorched and rubbery.
I promise you any home chef with a skillet and olive oil can pull these off.
This particular recipe was improvised by my culinary companion and I one gorgeous summer afternoon. At the time we were in Salt Lake City, and sourced our seafood from Harmon’s which has a surprisingly fresh, often rotating, and Oceanwise-conscious approach to their product. Never hesitate to ask your fishmonger for suggestions or details, that’s what they’re there for!
10 large sea scallops
1 bunch asparagus
1 pomegranate or cup of arils
2 tbs. Fresh lemon juice
2 tbs. Dry white vermouth or wine
1 small shallot, minced
12 tbs. (1 ½ sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 tbs. Olive oil
Salt and pepper
1) Preheat oven to 350.
2) Place asparagus on baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and rotate ensuring all are coated. Add salt and pepper, roast on top rack for 8-10 minutes.
3) In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, combine lemon juice, vermouth, and shallot (this is called your gastrique). Bring to a simmer until liquid is reduced to 1-2 tbs. Heating this mix neutralizes the alcohol content.
4) Strain liquid and pour gastrique into a stainless steel bowl, set aside.
5) Using saucepan, add all butter and melt down to liquid.
6) Remove butter from heat. 1 tsp. at a time pour butter into gastrique, whisking vigorously to ensure mix doesn’t separate. Add more butter for more volume.
Be patient with the beurre blanc, it’s actually harder to accomplish than the scallops! I’ve found a good tip is have two people when first attempting the recipe, one to whisk and one to add butter.
7) When desired volume and consistency is reached set aside.
Here’s the best part, I can tell you how to cook scallops in one sentence.
8) Heat 1tbs. Olive oil on high in a large skillet until just smoking, gently add scallops ensuring they don’t touch, and sear on 1-2 ½ minutes each side depending on thickness.
9) Remove scallops from heat and let rest.
10) Plate asparagus first, lay scallops on top, drizzle with beurre blanc and sprinkle with pomegranate arils.
Enjoy with a white Burgundy, particularly Mersault or a German semi-dry Reisling. It's hard to go wrong with champagne as well.