Sometimes the beauty of a dish is in the plating. It helps if it is also delicious. We are trying to savor our food more, eat slowly, and appreciate the beauty of what we are eating. It helps to light candles, set a pretty table and get rid of the distractions of the latest news frenzy. Music is also a good idea. We have many favorites; Patsy Cline, Billie Holiday, Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, and Raul Malo’s You’re Only Lonely CD. He has a voice with the haunting range of Roy Orbison. But I think I am dating myself with this list, and we are looking like Country Western nuts, which we really aren’t. We have a very eclectic taste in music, but for some reason this is what we like to listen to while dining. I would like to hear what kind of music all of you like to hear on a relaxed evening.
Sea scallops are so rich and succulent. You don’t need many to feel satisfied. If you can find Diver’s scallops you are in for a real treat. Most sea scallops are harvested by dredging the sea bottom for the scallop shells. The problem with this is that it disturbs and displaces the natural vegetation while gathering the scallops. Diver’s scallops are harvested by real divers who pluck them from their resting places in the sea. They are less gritty and the process does not disturb the ecosystem. Bay scallops, which are smaller than sea scallops, are in short supply today because of the loss of sea grasses near our shores where they like to attach. Developments on our beaches have reduced the vegetation needed to nurture bay scallops.
Sarah Foster, one of my favorite chefs, and restauranteurs has a great recipe for sea scallops with I have adapted for our weight loss program. Scallops are so flavorful on their own that they lend themselves to simple preparations. This is a quick and effortless dinner.
PAN-SEARED SEA SCALLOPS WITH CITRUS BUTTER
1 1/2 pounds large sea scallops (about 24)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black bepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
Juice of 2 oranges
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons lemon zest
Rinse the scallops under cool water, pat dry with a paper towel, and place them in a shallow bowl or on a plate. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, sprinkle with salt, black pepper, and cayenne, and toss gently to coat.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the butter with the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium- high heat until the butter melts and sizzles. Working in batches, place the scallops in the hot skillet, leaving about 1/2 inch between each scallop. Sear the scallops, undisturbed for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes per side, until they are opaque and light golden around the edges. The scallops will continue to cook after they’re out of the pan so it’s better to undercook than overcook them. Remove the scallops from the pan, place them on a platter, and cover looselhy with foil to keep warm. Repeat with the second and possibly third batch of scallps. adding more butter or oil to the pan as needed.
When all the scallops are cooked, pour the orange juice, lemon juice, and 1/2 of the lemon zest into the skillet, scrapping up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add any juices that have acculmulated around the scallops. Bring the liquid to a boil over medium-high heat and cook 1 to 2 minutes, until it reduces by half. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the remaining tablespoon fo butter until it melts.
If the scallops have cooled too much, return them to the pan with the sauce to warm very briefly over medium heat before serving. Serve the scallops over rice with the sauce spooned over them and sprinkled with the remaining lemon zest. Serves 4 to 6.