Scene-Stealing

These are the scallops I mentioned earlier, and there are a couple of non-scallop things worth mentioning about the dish.

First, the split pea purée. This was an idea that struck me recently: why not use them in place of a root purée? So I did. Not overly flavored, just cooked with garlic and herbs and then blitzed and sieved for a nice smooth result. It’s an idea with promise, but peas have such a clay-like texture that I will make a couple of modifications next time. First, mixing in some fresh pea purée for brighter color and a less dense texture. Second, some lovely whole peas, just wriggled around in a warm pan with a bit of fat and acid to shine them up before folding them in to the mixture, would add pop and visual interest. Then it would kill under almost any protein.

Second, the red sauce. It took a bit of time, but was ever so worth it. I cut the pointy end off a clove of garlic, dribbled a little olive oil on the cut, sprinkled on some salt and herbs, and then put it cut side up into a little pyrex bowl, covered that with foil, and popped it in the toaster oven at 350˚ for 45 minutes. There was no point in firing up the big oven for such a little thing. I chopped a bunch of shallots and caramelized them in olive oil with saffron and smoked paprika, then deglazed the pan with sherry. Once it was soft, I squeezed the garlic out of its papery husk into a bowl, scraped in the shallots, added red wine vinegar and some of the smoked salsa that’s never far from my hand, and blended it all into this vivid goodness.

The dark stuff is a buttery red wine pan sauce made after the scallops came out of the skillet.

It’s hard to overstate how good the red sauce was, like essence of Spain. Sharp, spicy, sweet-creamy like roasted garlic, and fragrant with herbs. If only the scallops had been cooked in chorizo fat, with the brown sauce then redolent of pork and shellfish alike, this would have hit every note. That will be another modification to whatever form this dish takes next time, during pea season. But the red sauce is a keeper, crying out to be used on almost anything from potatoes to pork. Into the repertoire it goes; I’m using it to make an aïoli/rouille sort of thing in the near future.

3 comments to Scene-Stealing

  • Tiff Koshiol

    You are totally brilliant! What a wonderful dish!

  • Love the way you walk through a recipe. I love scallops but hate the way I have to pay $30 a pound for diver’s scallops to get something that doesn’t smell like chemicals and turn into a watery mess when you saute them(the chorizo fat saute is awfully tempting). The sauce is fab and as you say can be used on so many things…

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I'm a painter who happens to also spend a lot of time growing, making, and writing about food. I'm particularly interested in the intersection of frugal peasant cooking techniques and haute improvisation. And I have a really great personality.

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