Dress up seared scallops

For a spur-of-the-moment semifancy meal, you can't beat scallops.

Scallops are ideal to have tucked in your freezer because they defrost and cook quickly.

Buy fresh, dry-packed sea scallops if you can; these are not treated or soaked in a solution. If they were not previously frozen, you can freeze them. When buying them from the fish counter, give them a sniff. Fresh scallops should smell sweet, not fishy.

Also, check the color. Scallops should be creamy light beige or off-white. If they're stark white, chances are they were treated with sodium tripolyphosphate, which is added to increase their weight and extend their shelf life. The preservative also makes them absorb moisture, preventing them from getting that really nice sear. If the scallops have been soaked, pat them dry with several paper towels.

If you buy frozen scallops, the label should indicate whether they've been treated.

Today's recipe pairs scallops with a slightly tangy, ruby red grapefruit juice-based sauce.

Here are some other flavor suggestions for scallops.

Basic: Sear scallops in a mix of hot oil and butter. Depending on their size, figure 2 to 4 minutes on each side. Don't crowd them in the pan. When you turn them over and cook on the second side, spoon the butter oil in the pan over the scallops. Cooked this way, scallops will be sweet and fork tender. Be careful not to overcook them. Deglaze the pan with white wine and pour over the scallops.

Gremolata: Mix together ½ cup finely chopped fresh parsley, 1 clove garlic, finely minced, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest, salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Sear scallops in butter oil and remove from the skillet. Add the parsley mixture to the pan and saute about 1 to 2 minutes. Serve topped with gremolata.

Balsamic glazed: Sear scallops as above. Remove them from the skillet and add ½ cup white wine or fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth and 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar to pan. Cook over medium heat until just slightly thick, stirring constantly, about 3 minutes. Pour over the scallops.

Bacon-wrapped: Precook bacon until almost done, but not crisp. Season scallops well on each side with salt and pepper. In a skillet, heat 1 tablespoon canola oil. Wrap a half slice of bacon around each scallop and secure with a wooden pick. Add scallops to the skillet and cook 2 to 4 minutes on each side.

>>EASY

Seared Scallops

With Shallots and Grapefruit Sauce

6 tablespoons olive oil, divided

½ cup finely diced shallots (2 to 3 large)

½ cup 100 percent ruby red grapefruit juice (or you can substitute tangerine or clementine juice)

¼ cup white wine vinegar

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 ¾ pounds large sea scallops

¼ teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning

2 tablespoons thinly sliced chives

1 tablespoon freshly chopped tarragon, optional

In a large skillet, heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallots; saute, stirring constantly until the shallots are golden, about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the grapefruit juice and vinegar. Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste; set aside.

Pat the scallops dry with paper towels and season lightly with salt, pepper and Old Bay Seasoning.

In a 12-inch heavy-duty nonstick skillet, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat. Working in batches if necessary, add the scallops (don't crowd them in the pan) and cover with a splatter screen if you have one, cooking until they are golden brown on both sides and almost firm to the touch, 2 to 4 minutes per side.

Add the shallot sauce to the scallops and cook until the sauce is just heated through.

Sprinkle with the chives and, if using, the tarragon.

Serves 4.

Source: Adapted from Fine Cooking magazine, January 2008

Dress up seared scallops 01/01/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 1, 2013 3:30am]

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, McClatchyTribune.

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