Sunday, December 23, 2007
Scallops are In
When the weather in New England becomes cold and stormy, from late Fall until February, the best scallops can be locally found. A favorite combination of mine is to prepare them on a bed of leeks...another Fall time favorite. Fresh scallops are sweet, clean and so easy to prepare. In between the rush of holiday preparations and the shoveling of snow...a lot of snow....we sat back to relax in the Nord kitchen with some locally harvested scallops. Following recipe adapted from Patricia Wells, "Vegetable Harvest."
Sea Scallops On A Bed of Leeks
Coarse sea salt
8 leeks, white portion only, cut into thin half-moon slices
8 large sea scallops
1/4 cup heavy cream
Fine sea salt
Freshly ground white pepper
Red Wine Vinegar
2 Tablespoons finely minced fresh chives
2 Tablespoons finely minced fresh parsley
2 Tablespoons finely minced tarragon leaves
Have handy a large bowl of ice water.
Bring about 3 quarts water to boil in a pot fitted with a colander. Add 3 tablespoons coarse salt and the leeks. Blanch until crisp-tender (about 1 minute). Immediately remove the colander from the water, allow to drain and plunge the colander with the leeks into the ice water so that they cool down quickly. Drain the leeks and wrap them in a thick towel to dry. (The leeks can be cooked up to 1 hour in advance.)
Rinse the scallops and pat dry with paper towels.
Just before you are ready to serve, place the blanched leeks in a large lidded skillet and scallops over high heat, just until brown around the edges. 30 seconds to 1 minute on each side. Season each side after it has cooked all the way through.
On a warmed plate, arrange a bed of warm leeks. Top with the seared scallops. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and vinegar. Sprinkle with herbs. Serve immediately.
Escaping from the snow this past week, I was in the Raleigh area on business and dined at a very intriguing Asian-French hybrid cuisine restaurant. AN Restaurant in Cary, North Carolina. "An" means "to dine" or "to eat" in Vietnamese. The menu includes an eclectic selection of sushi to free range chicken and lamb chops with plenty of choices available for both beef eaters and vegetarians. Since many of the scallops available in supermarkets are usually harvested off the coast of North Carolina I decided to try a dish with scallops and ordered Shrimp and Scallops. The Hot pot style dish came artistically served in a bamboo pot with wonton noodles, bamboo shoots, mushrooms, onions and various fresh vegetables. I'm not sure I could discern where the scallops were really harvested, but the mixture of textures and tastes was delightful. A nice reprieve from winter in the Northeast. Now, its back to the holiday preparations.