09 September 2009

Scallops + Orange + Basil = Tummy Love

Wow. That one word sums up this dish. I truly felt like I was dining in a ritzy French restaurant for lunch when I took the first bite of these Pan Fried Scallops with Orange-Basil Sauce.

I first discovered this recipe while having an "email discussion" with my sister about cookbooks. For some reason I was thumbing through my copy of Terrific Pacific Cookbook by Anya Von Bremzen and John Welchman, and I noticed this scallop recipe. Since my sister has turned into a scallop fiend (who could have ever predicted that would happen?!) I pointed the recipe out to her. But the more I stared at the recipe, the more I knew I would be making this recipe as soon as possible.

As soon as possible was a little challenging simply because the recipe calls for a rather unique ingredient: whole green peppercorns in brine. While I have certainly heard of this ingredient, I had never seen it or tasted it. I was on a mission to find the peppercorns. On my fourth or fifth stop, I finally found the peppercorns! I have to give a shout-out to The Hills Market in Worthington, Ohio for stocking unusual ingredients and having outstanding customer service! I highly recommend calling ahead instead of driving around like a chicken with its head cut off like I did. I think this dish would be tasty without the peppercorns, but it was also fun to try a completely new flavor.

The orange and basil are the perfect flavors to accent the mild, sweet flavor of scallops. The peppercorns are a bright, spicy contrast against the sweet orange. When you bite into a peppercorn, you get an explosion of spicy peppercorn flavor. It also has a slightly medicinal or chemical flavor that seemed to put off my roommate. I don't think I would sit and snack on them, but they were a lovely counterpoint in this dish.

Pan Fried Scallops with Orange-Basil Sauce
from Terrific Pacific Cookbook

In Singapore we indulged in all manner of street food, had fun eating with our fingers at "banana leaf" Indian curry dives, and feated like emperors at lavish Chinese banquets. But our final lunch in this city was French, at a great bistro called the Marco Polo. These scallops, accented with the tang of citrus and perfumed with basil, were one of the dishes we sampled there, and its fresh, bright flavors seemed right at home on this exotic island.

1/2 cup fish stock, bottle clam juice, or water (I used clam juice) 1/3 cup dry vermouth, preferably Noilly Prat (I sought out the Noilly Prat and it is wonderful!)
3 tablespoons dry white wine
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled (I used more like 4 tablespoons cuz I didn't mind a less buttery sauce)
1 1/4 pounds sea scallops, halved lengthwise if large
1 tablespoon whole green peppercorns in brine, drained
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 small, seedless orange, peel and all the white pith removed, cut into medium dice
3 tablespoons shredded fresh basil leaves
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. In a medium-size nonreactive saucepan, combine the fish stock, vermouth, wine and orange juice and reduce over medium heat to 1/4 cup, about 15 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, melt 2 1/2 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the scallops and cook until opaque throughout, about 2 minutes per side. Remove from the heat and keep warm while preparing the sauce. (I used more like 1 tablespoon of butter here)

3. Cut the remaining 5 1/2 tablespoons of butter into small pieces. Remove the stock mixture from the heat and quickly whisk in the butter, 1 piece at a time, working on and off low heat, to keep the sauce at an even, butter-melting temperature. Whisk constantly until all the butter is emulsified. Stir in the peppercorns, lemon juice, orange and basil and season with salt and pepper to taste. (I used more like 3 tablespoons of butter in this step)

4. To serve, divide the sauce among 4 plates and top with the scallops.

Serves 4


KristiB said...

I am so going to make this!!!! And then you'll see it on my blog. Heh heh! :)

I thought Laura didn't like scallops and whenever she made a scallop dish she'd make shrimp?

Josie said...

I am excited to see how yours turns out - I thought it would look prettier on a white plate but I don't own one! :)

Laura is the opposite - she hates shrimp and always subs scallops.

Laura said...

Could you sub chicken stock? Anything with fish stock or clam juice scares me. But they sure sound/look good....

Josie said...

You could probably sub chicken stock, or white wine... but honestly I would buy the bottled clam juice. It isn't scary and it doesn't taste remotely fishy :) (I was scared too, but I bought it and lived to tell...)

Velva said...

Okay, this looks fabulous. Not too mention fresh and healthy too. YUM!

HoneyB said...

This looks so yum! I don't cook with scallops often but I really should because Grumpy loves them!

frockandfork said...

This dish looks really good!