|Pan Seared Sea Scallops with Roasted Corn and Pea Purée|
Call this a continuation of my recipe redux post from last September...
Inspiration Behind the Dish
Last autumn, I prepared a scallops dish for my friend, Gwen, at Simply Healthy Family. If you click through to the post I wrote for her, I describe the evening I prepared the dish when my daughter finished her scallops and asked for more, which was unusual for a dish that's not kid favorites, such as burgers and pizza. She remembered the experience because she recently asked when are you going to cook scallops again? so I decided to use the opportunity to replicate the first scallops dish I published here because, even then, I was unhappy with it's execution.
I hope that this dish would be at home on any fine dining menu. For it, I used the same pea purée that I utilized in the dish I referenced above (however I omitted the tarragon sprig since I didn't have any fresh tarragon that evening) and my tried and true technique I've utilized since I figured it out two years ago. I also adapted the corn salsa I originally paired with pork chops.
3 ounces bacon, diced
2 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cups frozen peas, thawed
1 stick unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
12 ounces U-10 sea scallops
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Lemon thyme leaves, for garnish
1. Roast the corn. In a medium skillet, render the bacon fat over medium heat until just shy of being crisp, approximately two to three minutes. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate, then drain the bacon fat from the skillet and reserve for another use.
Add the corn to the same skillet where the bacon was prepared and roast until brown over medium heat, stirring periodically, approximately twelve to fifteen minutes. Remove the corn to a bowl, then combine with the bacon pieces and season with salt and pepper to taste.
2. Purée the peas. Start on the peas while the corn is roasting. To do so, combine the peas and butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and cover. Check the peas every three minutes until the peas are soft. Once velvety, strain the fluid from the peas but reserve the fluid. Purée the peas in a blender, adding the reserved liquid and one tablespoon olive oil until the purée is smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
3. Sear the scallops. Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil over high heat. Pat the scallops dry with paper towels, then season both sides with salt and pepper. Sear the scallops on one side only until browned, approximately sixty to ninety seconds. Remove to a plate to allow for carryover cooking. To plate, smear two tablespoons pea purée, onto a round plate, top with three scallops close together so they resemble a triangle, spoon some of the corn mixture over the scallops, then garnish with the lemon thyme leaves.
I remember watching a TV show that only lasted for one season on Bravo Network about five years ago called Rocco's Dinner Party. Each episode started with three chefs that prepared a dish in a qualifying round, then two of the three moved forward to host a dinner party for Chef Rocco DiSpirito and his celebrity friends. The chef who did the best won a cash prize. In one episode, Chef DiSpirito was thoroughly unimpressed in a qualifying round when one of the contestants prepared a dish using the combination of scallops, corn and bacon.
My point is the flavor affinity of this dish isn't very creative, however the picture of the finished dish is now my new favorite. I gave my friend, Faith of An Edible Mosaic and Healthy Sweet Eats, an advanced copy of the picture of the finished dish and one of the things she liked about it is the use of negative space: the way the food was concentrated on the center of the plate and the black plate against the white background. I've noticed that a plate with multiple contrasting colors on it is more visually appealing, so I'm very proud of the six colors on this dish. In fact, this photo has replaced my steak au poivre picture as my lock screen wallpaper on my phone.
Finally, my daughter finished her dinner the evening I prepared this dish just as quickly as she did last autumn and she's requested I prepare it again.