Katy’s Kitchen: Scallop Sensation
Last week in our feature of the new 2012 Signature Series Roussanne, we suggested pairing it with scallops. A couple days after posting that, we realized that scallops are a seafood with a reputation for sophistication, class, and often being cooked improperly if Chef Gordon Ramsey on “Hell’s Kitchen” is to be believed. Seriously, those poor chef contestants.
Having seen many a scallop thrown away on that show, we realized that maybe scallops weren’t the best recommendation unless you’re out and about at a restaurant that serves scallops. If professional chefs can’t cook them properly, can the average home cook?
The answer is, absolutely! After all, you don’t have Chef Ramsey breathing down your neck.
So this week’s edition of Katy’s Kitchen pulls the intimidating, lauded scallop back down to earth with this simple yet savory pasta dish.
Seared Scallop Linguini
Pairing suggestion: 2012 Signature Series Roussanne
What you’ll need:
4 sea scallops (per serving)
½ lb petite bay scallops (optional but strongly encouraged)
1 package dried linguini pasta noodles
1-2 sticks butter, unsalted
¼ cup dry white wine (see Tips at bottom)
Garlic, minced (fresh is best!)
Lemon, fresh sliced
Linguini and Butter Sauce
- In a large pot, fill two-thirds full with water. Add 1 teaspoon salt and dollop of olive oil and bring to a boil.
- Add pasta to pot and cook according to package directions.
- While pasta cooks, heat 1 stick of butter (2 if making a large batch) in large skillet. Add garlic to taste (recommended at least three cloves fresh or a heaping tablespoon if using packaged minced garlic), a dash of salt and pepper, and 2 teaspoons oregano. For the oregano, crush it in your hand to release more of the flavor as you add it to the skillet.
- Add white wine to skillet and bring to a boil. Reduce for about 4 minutes. Add bay scallops and simmer another 3-4 minutes or until scallops melt in your mouth.
- When pasta is al dente, drain (do not rinse!) and toss into skillet with butter sauce and bay scallops. Toss well.
At this step, the pasta can be served as its own dish. There should be plenty of garlic to keep vampires at bay and scallops to satisfy any seafood lover. To really impress and for something adventurous, grab a small clean skillet and your favorite apron because we’re turning things up a notch.
Seared Sea Scallops
Where most people go wrong in their scallop preparation is using a hot pan with cold oil. To avoid this, heat a drizzle of olive oil in the skillet. To see if it’s hot enough, spray a few drops of water into the oil. If they hiss and boil, the oil is hot enough. Sauté a small amount of garlic in the oil before adding scallops for extra pop.
Carefully lay each scallop into the hot pan, making sure they don’t touch each other. These should be sea scallops, which are much bigger than bay scallops and have a more buttery flavor and texture when cooked properly. Only cook three or four at one time. After roughly 90 seconds (it seriously doesn’t take long), flip each scallop. The cooked side should have a golden-brown sear. If it does not, turn up you heat slightly and monitor the bottom of the scallop for the color change.
Cook another 90 seconds on the second side and remove the scallops from the pan.
To check doneness, use your knuckle and feel for a firm bounce. Then cut into one scallop. It should be white on the sides, top, and bottom with a slight translucence in the center. Oh, and it should melt in your mouth. Can’t forget that.
Repeat these steps for however many scallops you intend to cook, only 3 or 4 scallops at a time.
Lay on top of the linguini and sprinkle with a touch of sea salt, squeeze of lemon, and dash of oregano to finish the plate.
A Few Tips
- When picking the sauce wine, avoid Riesling. It’s a lovely wine, but we need something with a citrus profile. Try a Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, or Semillon for this.
- Use as fresh of scallops as possible. Avoid frozen sea scallops if you can help it.
- If your scallops ooze a milky liquid while sautéing, frequently drain this liquid away from the scallops by tilting the pan at an angle with the scallops on the high side. Cooking may take a bit longer, but you’ll avoid soggy, flaccid scallops.
- For a saucier pasta, add ¼ cup clam sauce with the bay scallops and go lighter on the salt.
Veni, Vidi, Vinum!
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