It was the beaming faces of Facebook friends holding up gallon bags of the sweet morsels dropped off by fishermen friends that reminded me that it was that wonderful time of year, scallop season in Maine. We quickly started scouring the usual roadside spots for the beautiful treats.
Searching for scallops is a bit of a hardship for me, no longer do we have a scallop diver bringing still twitching pearlescent gems to our door. When the first of the season arrived at Cleonice we would allow ourselves to taste-test one straight out of the bag, the rest we’d treat gently, adding just a little something so as not to hide their perfection before serving. The season is short, the price is high, but Maine diver scallops are some of the most delicious things to come out of the ocean.
(Andy Mays, aka Aquaman, was our diver for Cleonice. He always arrived with a story along with his treasure. For a hysterical introduction to Andy Mays, watch this segment from the Colbert Report from 2012 http://www.cc.com/video-clips/xlk2nw/the-colbert-report-the-enemy-within—dr–skylar-bayer)
But onto scallops themselves. For our first meal of scallops this year we chose a one-sided sear and a salad with Green Goddess dressing. This full-flavored, creamy, herby dressing is delicious with seafood and we used it on our Yacht Club Lobster Salad this summer at Ravens Nest. When you’re looking for scallops, be sure to buy those marked “dry”. The others are cheaper because they’ve been soaked in a preservative solution that also plumps up the scallops, so you’re paying for water as well as meat that’s not as fresh. Dry scallops will sear, soaked scallops will get gummy. To sear the Scallops, get your sauté pan hot. It is best to use a stainless steel or aluminum sauté pan, here we were lazy and used an old non-stick (don’t follow our lead, or just know that it’s okay to break the rules sometimes). Add one tablespoon or so of mild oil that will take heat (pomace olive oil or other vegetable oil) allow that to come to temp. Season the side of the scallops you are going to sear with a light sprinkle of salt and pepper. Just before the oil starts smoking, place the scallops seasoned side down in the pan one by one, leaving space between. If your pan is hot enough you will hear a good sputtle when the first scallop hits. Now wait patiently and don’t walk away. First the scallop will stick before it sears so don’t try to move it right away. Wait until you see a little brown around the rim (about a minute to a minute and a half). When this happens take a fish spatula (or tongs, if you’re a chef ) and look at the bottom of the scallop. You’re looking for a crisp caramel brown. With these nice fresh scallops we wanted only one side seared. If you don’t do raw or rare seafood, you can go ahead and sear the second side. We used our bullet smoothie maker for the Green Goddess dressing. This gives you a super smooth dressing and brings out the crazy green of all the herbs. In December, our herb selection runs a little short, understandably. We found parsley and tarragon at the supermarket so used those. Classically chervil is used as well, and basil is also a great addition. See recipe below for full instructions. A healthy dollop of green goddess along with some crisp Boston lettuce and tomatoes provides the bed for our scallops.
A delicious first treat for the scallop season. Next round I think we might go classic Cleonice Crudo with lemon confit and smoked sea salt.
- 8 Anchovy filets packed in olive oil
- 1 Tsp oil from Anchovies
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 med shallot minced
- 3 scallions white and green, chopped
- 2 Tb Fresh Tarragon
- 2 Tb Fresh Flat Leaf Parsley
- 1 Tb white wine vinegar
- ½ tsp White pepper
- ½ tsp mustard powder
- ¾ cup Mayonnaise
- ¾ cup Sour Cream
- Place anchovies, oil, garlic, shallot, scallions, tarragon, flat leaf parsley, and white wine vinegar in a small food processor, smoothie maker, or blender and blend until smooth.
- (You may finely chop all of these items and blend together for a less homogeneous sauce).
- Remove from blender and combine in a bowl with mayonnaise. sour cream, white pepper, and mustard powder until fully combined.