Friday, May 16, 2014

Scallops Two Ways and Margarita Jello

I absolutely love scallops.  I love the delicate texture and the sweet, mild flavor and I love trying new preparations for them.  I've had them prepared with with hot sauce, with pasta, with vinaigrettes, with corn, with grapefruit, with prosciutto, with strawberries, with cream sauces and with sweet potatoes and cranberries.  I'm trying to say that they pair well with a lot of other foods and flavors.

Scallops tend to be a 'special occasion' meal at our house because of the heftier price tag compared to other seafood, but they're easy and quick to make at home.  If you haven't done this before, the trick is to just keep an eye on your pan.

I had a lot of fun with the plating for this dish.  Doug and I made the wooden trays, filled them with aquarium stones and served the scallops on the scallop half shell.  I even found squid shaped seafood forks to fit with the fishy theme.  The margarita jello shot was served in a quartered lime rind.  

These margarita jello shots look like a little lime wedge when they're done and I really loved the presentation.  To make the wedge, I hollowed out half of a lime to make a small bowl and filled the lime bowl with jello.  Once the jello was set, I cut the bowl in half lengthwise to make a lime 'wedge'.  One lime made four jello wedges.

Gutting the limes was not exactly what I would call a fun task.  I used a grapefruit spoon because that ridged edge really helped me dig into the fruit.  By the end, though, I was covered in lime pulp and I had scraped up my finger a couple of times.  Still... it was worth it.  They were pretty.

Margarita Jello Shot
Makes 20 shots
  • 5 limes
  • 1 package lime jello
  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup tequila
  • kosher salt
Rinse the limes and halve each along the prime meridian.  Next you're going to scrape out the pulp to make a lime rind bowl.  Scrape over a bowl to catch the lime juice.  Strain the pulp out and reserve 3 tablespoons of lime juice.

Line the bottom of a container with a paper towel and place the lime bowls inside.  (I used tupperware because the tall sides helped the lime bowls stay upright and they had a lid so I could stack them in the fridge, but any flat bottomed container will work.)

Now to make the jello.  Bring the water to a boil and add the jello.  Stir to dissolve.  Remove from heat.  Stir in lime juice and tequila.  Pour mixture into the lime bowls.  Refrigerate until firm (~4 hours).

With a sharp thin knife, cut each bowl in half lengthwise to form a 'slice' of lime.

Just prior to serving, sprinkle each slice with kosher salt.

I recently said that there is nothing worse than watery salsa, but I was wrong.

There is lit-ral-lee nothing worse than a gritty scallop.  Nothing.

Nothing. Nothing. Nothing.


(Actually, there is nothing worse than people who say 'lit-ral-lee'... because, literally, they're the worst.  Did you all sound that out in your head?  Be sure to put an emphasis on that first syllable.)

Always remove the small muscle from the side of the scallop, rinse the scallop thoroughly and dry it with a paper towel before searing it.
  • That small muscle (also called a foot) is chewy and tough, it's usually a different color and texture than the scallop, so you can find it visually or by running your finger around the edge of the scallop.  Not all scallops will have the muscle, some may have already been removed or they may have fallen off on their own.
  • A scallop may have sand or grit which will really disrupt the smooth texture of the meat when you eat it.  Think getting a grain of sand in your mouth at the beach.  Blech!  Run the scallop thoroughly under the faucet to rinse that away.
  • Lastly, pat the scallop dry with a paper towel.  It should be dry when it hits the hot pan in order to form a nice crust.  To also help develop that crust, I like to use a stainless pan rather than one with a non-stick coating.

Prosciutto Wrapped Scallop with Arugula and Sun-Dried Tomato Vinaigrette
Serves 8 (1 scallop/person)
  • 8 scallops (rinsed and dried)
  • 4 slices prosciutto
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups arugula
  • Sun-Dried Tomato Vinaigrette
Cut strips of prosciutto and wrap a piece around each scallop.  Secure with a toothpick if necessary.  (Cut the prosciutto strips depending on the amount of prosciutto you want to use to wrap the scallop.  I cut strips whose width matches the height of the scallop and whose length will wrap around the scallop once.)  Dust both sides of each scallop with salt and pepper.  

Pour one tablespoon of oil in a skillet over high heat.  Place the scallops in the pan and once they are set down, don't move them.  They're developing that delicious crust.  Depending on the size of the scallop, sear approximately 1.5 minutes per side.

The scallop should be golden brown on the outside but maintain a translucent center.

Serve the scallop over a bed of arugula and top with the vinaigrette.

This mashed corn was certainly not the healthiest, but I kept the serving size small by using just enough to form a little bed for the scallop.

I was nervous, at the time, about being too heavy handed with the sriracha, but with the cream in the corn and and the cornmeal on the scallop, the dish can handle a little more heat.  Next time, I'll drizzle a little more sauce directly on the corn and scallop.

Cornmeal Crusted Scallop over Mashed Corn
Serves 8 (1 scallop/person)

Mashed Corn
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 2 cloves garlic - finely chopped
  • 1/2 onion - finely diced
  • 1 jalapeno - seeded and finely diced
  • 2 sprigs thyme - finely diced
  • 1.5 cups corn (I used frozen because corn was out of season, but otherwise use 2 ears)
  • 1.5 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
Over medium-high heat add 1 teaspoon butter and garlic to saucepan for 1 minute.  Add onions and jalapeno and cook for 5 minutes.  Add thyme, corn and remaining butter.  Once the butter has melted, add heavy cream and continue cooking for 10 minutes.

Puree 1/4 of the corn mixture in a blender and return it to the saucepan.  Season with salt and pepper.

(Note: I made this the day before my party.  I followed the steps up to adding the heavy cream.  The next day I reheated the corn mixture in a small pot, then added the cream and continued with the remaining instructions.) 

Cornmeal Crusted Scallop
  • 8 scallops (rinsed and dried)
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • sriracha
Dredge scallops in cornmeal.  Dust with salt and pepper.  

Pour one tablespoon of oil in a skillet over med-high heat.  Place the scallops in the pan and once their set down, don't move them.  They're developing a delicious crust.  Depending on the size of the scallop, sear approximately 1.5 minutes per side.

Serve over the mashed corn and finish with drops of sriracha for a nice kick.

I served this as one of the courses of an eight course dinner 


  1. This was so delicious - and the presentation was beyond.

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