March 31, 2011
Sea Scallops with Spiced Carrot-Dill Sauce
Chef Jerry Traunfeld is a James Beard award-winning chef and owner of Poppy restaurant in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. For years he served as executive chef at The Herbfarm restaurant in Woodinville, Washington, and is also the author of two cookbooks. He very generously gave me this recipe for inclusion in “Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining.” When asked about a wine pairing with this vibrantly colored, gently herbed and spiced seafood entrée, Jerry quickly replied, “Without question, this is a Riesling dish!”
2 cups fresh carrot juice (available at health-food stores, juice bars, and select grocery stores)
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup diced shallots
One 2-inch piece cinnamon stick
2 star anise pods
2 whole cloves
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning
Freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds fresh or thawed untreated (dry pack) sea scallops (See Cook’s Hint, below)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1-tablespoon pieces
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh dill
1. Pour the carrot juice and white wine into a medium saucepan and add the shallot, cinnamon stick, star anise, cloves, the 3/4 teaspoon salt, and a few grindings of pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until it is reduced to about 1 cup, 25 to 30 minutes. Set it aside while you cook the scallops.
2. Pull off the small white piece of muscle that is attached to the side of the scallops (some may not have it) and discard. Pat the scallops very dry on paper towels and season with salt and pepper.
3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Swirl in the olive oil and carefully add the scallops, flat side down, in a single layer without crowding. Cook, without turning, until the bottoms turn a deep brown color, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn and brown on the other side, 1 to 2 minutes more. Transfer the scallops to a warm plate and let them rest while you finish the sauce.
4. Bring the sauce back to a simmer over medium heat and add the lemon juice. Whisk in the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time. Place a fine-meshed sieve over the top of a blender container, and strain the sauce, pressing the solids with the back of a large spoon to remove as much of the sauce as possible. Discard the solids and blend the sauce for 30 seconds, or until smooth. Pour the sauce back into the saucepan and stir in 3 tablespoons of the dill.
5. Arrange the scallops on 4 warm serving plates. Ladle the carrot sauce around them and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon dill.
Cook’s Hint: Whether using fresh or previously frozen sea scallops, it is important to use “dry pack” scallops, or the scallops will not brown (caramelize) properly, and will instead steam in their own juices. Scallops that have been treated with phosphates during processing absorb water. Not only do they not cook properly, but they lack the fresh, sweet, and briny sea flavor of their dry-packed cousins. Sea scallops that are uniformly white in color, or that are displayed surrounded by juice, are most likely treated.
Recipe reprinted from “Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining: The People, Places, Food, and Drink of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and British Columbia” (Wiley, 2007, $34.95) by Braiden Rex-Johnson.