Thomas Keller’s Carmelized Scallops
(with a Fresh Salad of arugula, goat cheese, and pear)
The other night, I was feeling adventurous – I was in the mood to cook something gourmet. I had just seen a recipe posted on Tastespotting (my favorite source for food blogs!) for Thomas Keller’s carmelized sea scallops and I just knew I had to make them.
First of all, I love Thomas Keller. He is an extremely talented and award winning chef – but he is down to earth. His latest cookbook – Ad Hoc at Home – focuses on simplicity, quality ingredients, and taking the ‘gourmet’ and translating it down to the average American family. I asked for the book for Christmas, but alas the publisher didn’t print enough and so it is sold out until February!
The second reason why I had to make this recipe is simple: I love scallops. They are one of my absolute favorite things to eat (and, as far as I know, there aren’t any large moral issues looming over the consumption of scallops. If there are moral issues, don’t tell me because I want to live in ignorance! Scallops are just too good! :) ). Needless to say, I saw the words ‘Thomas Keller’ and ‘Scallops’ and I was sold. I knew what we were making for dinner.
So, one trip to Zupans and $10.00 later (Ten bucks for 8 large and beautiful sea scallops! Such a great price! Just think about what you’d pay for those in a restaurant.), our gourmet dinner was in the works. I like serving (and eating) scallops with a fresh salad, and so I also hunted for exciting salad ingredients at Zupans. The produce guy took full advantage of my enthusiasm and convinced me to buy some local pears, which were absolutely delicious. And thus, the arugula, pear, and goat cheese salad was born. I also happened to make a big batch of yellow mustard yesterday, and so the salad demanded a mustard vinaigrette. Yes, I said demanded. And yes, I made my own mustard. I have made two batches now (spicy brown and yellow) and I’ve been too lazy to post the recipe! I’m a bad food blogger. I will post the mustard recipe soon (I promise), but for now here is the recipes for the salad, vinaigrette, and the scallops.
1 bunch fresh arugula (washed & dried)
1 ripe pear (sliced thinly)
1 package of soft (plain) goat cheese (spoon into little balls on top of the arugula and pears)
2 Tablespoons mustard (any kind! I used homemade, but I don’t expect that everyone has homemade mustard lying around the kitchen)
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon honey
1 tsp chopped rosemary
1/2 cup olive oil
Kosher salt & Fresh Ground pepper to taste
Caramelized Sea Scallops
excerpted from Ad Hoc at Home by Thomas Keller
*Before you start the recipe, here are my tips/hints: Clarified butter can be purchased at any grocery store. It has a much higher burning/smoking point than regular butter and has a richer, nuttier taste. If you do brine the sea scallops (you don’t have to, but it definitely enhances the flavor) don’t be frustrated if the salt doesn’t all dissolve immediately. Nich and I had to use more hot water than the recipe called for (and thus used less cold water) to dissolve the salt. You don’t want to brine them in all hot water, however, because this will cook the scallops.
2 cups kosher salt, plus more to taste
2 cups hot water
8 cups cold water
8 large sea scallops (more or less depending on your preference. Nich and I each had 4), preferably dry-packed, tough side muscle removed from each one
About 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) Clarified Butter
1/2 lemon (optional)
Line a small baking sheet with paper towels. Combine the 2 cups salt with the hot water in a large bowl, stirring to dissolve the salt. Add the cold water.
Add the scallops to the brine and let stand for 10 minutes (no longer, or the scallops may become too salty). Drain the scallops, rinse under cold water, and arrange in a single layer on the paper towels.
Heat the clarified butter in a large stainless steel frying pan over medium-high heat until it ripples and begins to smoke. (Although you may be tempted to use a nonstick pan, a stainless steel pan will produce a more beautiful caramelized exterior.) Sprinkle the scallops lightly with salt and add them to the pan, without crowding. (If necessary, cook the scallops in two pans or in 2 batches; if they touch, they will steam rather than caramelize.)
Cook, without moving the scallops, until the bottoms are a rich golden brown, 3 to 3 1/2 minutes. Turn the scallops and caramelize the second side.
Transfer the scallops to a serving platter and serve with a squeeze of lemon juice on top, if desired.