27 May 2009

Scallops & fishy pepper sauce

Seared scallops with fishy sauce

I wooed my wife by cooking for her.  There are about half a dozen recipes that I have that I am quite certain are responsible for my happy home life.  This is one of them.  The bright side is, it's fast, it's easy, and it can be prepared as an appetizer or as main course, depending on how many scallops you want to make.

The secret to scallops is ensuring they're cooked properly.  Most restaurants do dreadful things to scallops, overcooking them to the point where they're rubbery and disgusting.  I'm quite convinced that anyone who thinks that scallops aren't heaven hasn't had scallops cooked properly.  Really, scallops aren't that hard, you just have to pay attention to them.

We start with a sauce (this one is from the May 2001 issue of Gourmet back when Gourmet didn't suck).  This one is a fish sauce/vinegar sauce.  I love the flavour of fish sauce, and this spicy, fishy mess is very tasty.  Here's your ingredient list:
1 small garlic clove
1 small jalapeno
2¼ tsp sugar
2 tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
2 tbsp Asian fish sauce
1½ tbsp water
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
as many large scallops as you want to eat (for appetizers, 1-2 each, for main course 4-6 each)
Grind up the jalapeno, garlic and sugar into a nice, hot, sugary paste.  Add vinegar, fish sauce, water and lime juice, blend until you get a nice, green, frothy fishy sauce.  Yum!
Now, pat dry your scallops, season liberally with salt and pepper, and heat a pan over high heat until the oil is screaming hot but not smoking.  Put your scallops into the screaming hot oil.  If you're a pan-fidgeter, you're gonna want to stir the scallops and move 'em around.  Don't.  Scallops are fragile, and you don't want to tear the beautiful surface of the scallops.  Fry 'em for 3 1/2 minutes per side.  Flip once, and don't pan-fidget.

After they've seared 3 1/2 minutes/side, test to see they're slightly flakish on the surface.  Serve with the dipping sauce.  YUM!

Served with a nice sauvignon blanc: 

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