Hubby and I have a wedding anniversary coming up. Seems to come up around this same time every year for as long as I can remember. Our anniversary got me to thinking – and planning a meal for my soul mate, the love of my life. Something special – my gift to him. Hubby adores bounties from the sea. Scallops are right up there on his hit parade. As are dishes that contain a bit of heat. This bright, beautiful recipe for scallops contain both.
Did you know that scallops are found in the oceans all over the world? In their natural state, scallops don’t appear very attractive. The part we actually eat is the abductor muscle (the body part used for opening and closing the valves of a shell). Like any shellfish item, the process of breaking down the original form and extracting the delicious edible parts takes a bit of time and know-how. I suppose you could go diving for scallops, (especially if you live near the Florida coastline), then lean how to pry open the shells and remove the edible part. However; it is far more convenient to buy scallops in the seafood section of your market. For this recipe, you will want to use the larger sea scallops. While not as sweet as the bay scallops, size does make a difference and sea scallops are as much as 3 or 4 times larger than bay scallops.
This recipe from Chef John was featured in Allrecipes Magazine. It is so basic, so simple and yet so packed with flavor, I need to ask myself what in the world have I been waiting for? Wait no more, this gem is going on the menu board as part of our anniversary celebration. The real question remains – appetizer or main course? Or just maybe the “surf” side of a surf and turf supper . . . hum.
Seared Scallops with Jalapeno Vinaigrette
1 large jalapeno pepper
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
12 large fresh sea scallops
1 pinch sea salt
1 pinch cayenne pepper
2 oranges, peeled and cut in between sections as segments
Place jalapeno pepper on a cutting board. Remove top stem, split pepper in half. Remove some or all of the seeds and membranes. For mild Jalapeno Vinaigrette, remove all seeds and membranes. For more of a kick, retain some if not all. If you are unsure, remove seeds and membranes, set aside. Make the vinaigrette, taste and adjust heat by adding a little of the seeds with membranes at the end until desired heat level is achieved.
Place jalapeno, rice vinegar, olive oil, and Dijon mustard in a blender. Puree on high until mixture is completely liquefied, 1 to 2 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper to taste. Now would be the time to add additional “spice” with reserved jalapeno seeds. With each addition, puree mixture until liquefied. Remember, scallops are going to be seasoned with a pinch of cayenne pepper, so don’t rely on all the heat to come from the vinaigrette.
Season scallops with sea salt and cayenne pepper. Heat vegetable oil in a skillet over high heat. Place scallops in skillet and cook until browned, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.
Garnish scallops with orange segments and drizzle jalapeno vinaigrette over the top.