Portuguese Style Scallops
Hockey Puck … This is commonly used to describe this sweet pricey mollusk when it’s overcooked. My description, too, with my first cooking experience.
So much was working against the perfect outcome back then. First, my Mystery Man preferred well done everything especially seafood. Yep, even well done tuna sashimi. That’s an oxymoron! (Don’t tell him but fresh scallops can actually be eaten raw.) This well done thing, and no ingredients ready before placing the scallops into a too cool skillet converted the potentially tender juicy treat into a choking hazard! Since then I’ve learned much about this treasure of the sea.
So, here are a few simple suggestions for cooking the perfect sea scallop.
-Have everything prepared before you begin cooking the scallops … Not only the ingredients going into the scallop dish but any side you plan to fix. Keep in mind cooking scallops takes only minutes. Have the rice ready or nearly so.
-For best results use searing to cook the scallops. I like to use a very hot cast iron skillet. Use an oil that tolerates high heat and be prepared for a little bit of a mess with splatter.
-Cook in batches to keep the skillet from dropping too much in temperature when the scallops are added. Spread out the scallops in the pan.
-Let the scallops cook for about one minute before turning them over. Check to make sure the bottom is cooking nicely, browning but not burning. After a minute the scallop is less likely to stick to the skillet because it is now seared. Turn to sear the additional side.
Four adult servings
Prepare your favorite rice, brown or white. Begin this before cooking the scallops. The scallops will take about 3-4 minutes per batch. Try to time the rice for completion even before beginning the scallops. If you wish to add onion to the rice or cook it in broth, do so. Keep in mind there will be a sauce created from the scallop drippings. The amount is minimal but full of flavor.
One Pound Asparagus-rinsed, tough end of stalk snapped off, and cut into generous one inch pieces … Avoid cutting through the tips … leave tips longer if necessary
One Tablespoon of olive oil
One garlic clove-crushed with the side of a knife after peeling
Salt to taste
Prepare the asparagus before the scallops. In a separate skillet from scallops heat the oil over medium heat and add the crush garlic. Allow the garlic to begin to color. Remove.
Add the asparagus and cook until tender about 6-8 minutes or more if the stalk is thick.
One pound of scallops-mine were shelled-rinse quickly in cold water and place onto a cloth towel and blot (There is a tough muscle on the side of the scallop. This is usually already removed if your scallops are shelled. If not, it easily peels off.)
3 Tablespoons of high heat cooking oil like canola
2 Cloves of garlic-crushed
Generous 1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
Scant 1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
2 Tablespoon tawny port or broth
1/4 Cup cilantro-chopped (Really dislike cilantro? Substitute Italian parsley)
Mix the spices in a little dish. Set aside.
Measure the port and lemon juice. Set aside.
Prepare the cilantro. Set aside.
Heat your skillet over medium/high to high heat. I use a cast iron skillet. A non-stick skillet is good if made to tolerate this heat. Add 1 and 1/2 tablespoon oil and one garlic clove. As the garlic begins to sizzle add 1/2 of the scallops. The heat should not be so high that the scallops burn. No red burner if you use an electric stove. Remove the garlic before it burns. The scallops will loosen from the skillet as they sear. This takes about one minute for the first side. Turn to the other side. I like to use tongs. Check the second side frequently to avoid burning. When both sides are a nicely brown, about 3 minutes. Remove from the skillet to a plate. Pinch the spices and sprinkle over the cooked scallops. Loosen the drippings and move to the sides of the skillet. Add the remainder of the oil, the second garlic clove and remainder of scallops. Sear as before. Remove the garlic as before. Remove scallops to the plate and again sprinkle with the spices. Turn your heat down. You may have done this already somewhere along the line as you see the skillet becoming too hot.
Loosen the drippings in the skillet. Add the lemon juice and the port or broth. The cooked scallops will have liquid on the plate. Pour this liquid into the skillet too. The skillet contents will sizzle. Add any left over spices and 1/2 of the cilantro. Stir. Add the asparagus and all liquid into the scallop skillet. If the liquid at this point is minimal add a tiny bit of water, or 2T more port, or add a little broth. Continue loosening drippings. Add the scallops just to heat through quickly.
Spoon the asparagus over the cooked rice … Gently, as not to disturb the scallops. Place scallops over the top of all and drizzle remaining skillet sauce over all, concentrating on the scallops. Garnish with remaining cilantro.
This is just delicious!
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