Sunday, May 20, 2007

Scallops: Browned or Destroyed?

Scallops have always been difficult for me in the kitchen. I never seem to brown them properly, as I am afraid of cooking them too much so I don't use high enough heat or cook them long enough. This time I asked the fish people for their biggest scallops in order to cook 'em on the highest heat for as long as I could.

So, my non-stick pan, high heat for a few minutes before the oil even went in. Then heat the oil for a few more minutes. Either I would brown these things or destroy them. The scallops go in the pan...sizzle sizzle sizzle. Don't move them, don't even touch them. I'm using tongs in order to grab and turn them easily. A minute goes by, they release a small amount of liquid into the pan. Another minute...this is nuts, they must be burning. So I grab them with the tongs and turn them. Well blow me down - they're browned and beautiful. Another two minutes on the other side and presto - scallops! Seems like I may have finally figured out the mystery of decent scallop cooking.

This was an appetizer with the back end of the season's asparagus and a simple sauce made with fresh squeezed blood orange juice. Main dish was flounder baked en papillote (parchment paper) with sorrel and tarragon. I wanted a Sauvignon Blanc to pair with this meal but I realized that I had not even one bottle in the house.

So I decided on a Savennieres, the entry level wine from Domaine du Closel called La Jalousie. This is not only a window that allows for a peek into their more serious wines each year, it is an excellent dry and mineral Chenin Blanc, a bright and delicious wine that loves seafood.

I like this combination of buttery scallops, grassy asparagus, and sweet acidic blood orange sauce. Nothing too fancy, just market fresh food, and this time I didn't wreck the scallops.

And La Jalousie - let's just say that I cannot wait until the other 2005 Closel wines are released.

2005 Domaine du Closel Savennieres La Jalousie, $20.
Light straw color. Bright citrus and wet stone smells, a hint of honey too. Firm on the palate, nice tension between the acid and the ripe fruit. Flavors of green melon and lemon oil, lanolin, and a nice vibrant finish with a bit o' honey. Good acidity to balance things out. An excellent mid-priced bottle, highly recommended.

15 comments:

Marcus said...

I always thought those browned scallops were specially coated in lighter fluid or something because mine would have a hint of gold and that would be it.

I guess I need hang on a bit longer over the high heat. I definitely can see that they've got to be big because they should be like sushi in the middle when done.

So your wine wasn't Sauvignon-based? I don't think I've ever had Savennieres.

Brooklynguy said...

First time I ever got this right on the scallops - give it a shot. Or else I think you need a restaurant grade stove with higher heat index, or whatever that measurement is called. And Savennieres Marcus - honest to goodness, this wine is so right up your alley that it's not even funny. Most expensive bottle (except for Nicholas Joly, but don't start there) is about $25, the wines are high quality and interesting. Look for Domaine du Closel and just try a bottle. Click on my Loire section when you have a minute or search the net for Savennieres - I'm not playing around with this one.

Joe said...

My wife won't let me near a stove, so I will have to trust you on the scallops. I am pretty sure I have had a Savennieres before, but it has been a while. I found a $100 Clos de la Coulee Savennieres, and then realized it was by Nicolas Joly... Have you ever tried a Domaine Ogereau "Clos du Grand Beaupreau"? It is the only Savennieres available right now here in Montreal...

RougeAndBlanc said...

Thanks for the tips on scallop browning.
Just curious. What kind of of oil did you use this time?
Andrew

Brooklynguy said...

Hey Joe - never tried Ogereau but it's on my list. Recent vintages are all pretty good, but 03 is a little flabby.

I used butter, actually, Andrew, mixed with a little safflower oil.

ann said...

Congrats on your awesome scallop dish! If I may, there's three things I would suggest to anyone trying to brown scallops that scared me a little about your technique:
1. make sure your scallops are patted bone dry with a paper towel or something

2. try using a non-non-stick pan. non-stick does not allow for the proper caramelizations to occur on the surfaces of food. Same for cooking steaks, browning meats and caramelizing onions. Try cast iron or stainless steel with oil and a little butter if you'd like.

3. Never use non-stick over high, high heat, especially if you have a bird in the house. The teflon coating releases chemicals that can kill birds and may be harmful to humans over time.

I hope I'm not being too presumptuous by chiming in, but I do love me a perfectly seared scallop and love to help others attain them!
Love your blog! The wine tips are great (I'm a huge Languedoc wine geek myself)

Brooklynguy said...

Okay, first of all Ann...WHERE HAS YOUR BLOG BEEN ALL OF MY LIFE??? I love it. Your passion for food and learning about cooking and for life in general is just lovely to read about. And that you live in Brooklyn makes it all the better. I love the pictures and the attitude and the whole thing. I just read everything that you can scroll to and I'm hooked. A few comments, but I will post them on your site.

Thanks for your scallop comments. I almost tried the non-stick pan this past weekend, but I was worried I would destroy them trying to remove them from the pan. Thanks for the drying and teflon tips. No birds, but a baby daughter, so maybe no more non-stick.

thanks for your comments!

Anonymous said...

was wondering... have you tried them in the stainless pan yet? the non-stick idea worries me as i don't want to ruin the finish - they're those new high dollar kind. but even drying them off well, they tend to stick to the stainless surface. yes, i heat the pan well, then add the fat and then the scallops - this is making me crazy. i need to do a scallop test or something. i'm getting frustrated...

Brooklynguy said...

I did try it and it did work, but I used PLENTY of butter in the pan. I might jsut take my chances with non-stick from now on, as I don't do it very often.

Anonymous said...

i used butter this time - mixed with a bit of peanut oil for it's high heat properties. i have some nonstick aluminum hot plate - rough black finish that i use for anything/everything. it worked. i'm not as worried about toxins releasing as i am destroying a new, expensive platinum finish pan (whatever that is). anyway my sauce was unreal. put the scallops over a salad of greens and chives with some fresh sorrel for good measure and then made up a great dressing. here goes: peel 2 navel oranges, hunk of fresh ginger, 4 garlic cloves, great olive oil, white unpasteurized miso and a whole jalepeno - sans stem, of course. i've got a vitamix that just puree'd this to perfection. tasted like it was made with cream. really lovely, easy and oh so fresh. as for wine - i love it - but my guy is a recovering alcoholic and this has put a damper on my drinking. ah well... the trade-offs of life. i shall enjoy vicariously... thanks. signed, claudia in nashville but born and raised in nyc.

Brooklynguy said...

Hey Claudia - sounds like quite a sauce, a melange of Japanese and southwester/Mexican. Yummy. And fresh sorrel...I think that anyone who doesn't use that in salads is off as a person. I loved it when it was in the farmer's market for a few weeks. So lemony and good.

Very supportive of you to stay away from vino for the recovering boyfriend. hope recovery goes smoothly for both of you, and that i can continue to do my part in posting wine experiences that bring you vicarious pleasure...

claudia said...

hey there, i started my own blog
you were my inspiration
seems they'll let anyone on here!

how does one gain exposure?
just wondering...

Brooklynguy said...

Hi Caludia - what an honor, to be your blog inspiration. Very kind of you to say.

I don't know the answer to your question anbout gaining exposure. You just keep writing the blog I think. Comment on other people's sites using your name and URL address and maybe they check back. I did already on your blog, for example.

Sending that picture around will certainly help :)

tedperl said...

I just tried using the monster FreshDirect day scallops. The trouble I had was that at high heat with oil in a non-stick pan I started splattering oil all over the kitchen. Did I just not dry them enough, or is this an occupational hazard of this mode of cooking.

Brooklynguy said...

Hi Ted - you may not have dried them properly, that sounds right. There is always a little splatter, but small fine droplets. Sounds like you had major splatter. By the way, I tried this in a regular pan and the results are better, caramelization wise. You do need to really dry the scallops though. Iw ash em and let em sit for 10 minutes after drying, then pat them again before the salt, pepper, and into the pan.