I’m back down in Barnegat this weekend at my parents’ house, this time with my boyfriend James and some friends. I love coming down, even just for the weekend, because being down at the shore makes it feel like a mini vacation. During the day I went to the island (LBI) with my dad and James for some lunch, mini-golf, and ice cream, then I came back to get started on dinner for everyone. I made seared scallops with a mango-peach salsa, haricots verts (thin French green beans) with bacon, and a meyer lemon risotto.
I was excited about the local sea scallops I found at Ahearn’s Seafood Market, a lovely shop in nearby Waretown with a great selection of all kinds of seafood. I got two and a half pounds of scallops for six people, which was a perfect amount. Cooking scallops is easy, and one of the only things I do the same way every time. Here is how I prepare and cook them:
- Dry them out. As soon as you get them home, give them a rinse in cold water if they look like they need it, pull off that little side muscle, if they have it, then lay them out on a layer of paper towels, with paper towels on top. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Change the towels after a few hours to make sure they are getting really dry.
- Clarify butter – heat it in a small sauce pan, skim the white off the top, and pour the clearer butter out, trying not to let any of the solids from the bottom come with it. This keeps your scallops from burning.
- Have some lemon juice on hand. When you’re ready to cook, heat the clarified butter in the bottom of a large frying pan. When it is warm, add the scallops in one layer, with enough space so they are not touching. If I’m cooking for more than three people, I usually need to do two batches. Cook until they get brown on the bottom, then flip. It doesn’t take long for them to cook through. Cut one one to be sure they are done – it should just have turned white all the way through, with no opaque pink parts in the middle. At the very end, I splash in a little of the lemon juice, then pull them off the pan.
To serve with the scallops, I made a fresh salsa. I put it together earlier in the day, so it had time to set up in the fridge and get all delicious. I used:
- Two ripe mangos, diced (check out my Instagram, @cookuntildone, to see a video of my mango hedgehog!)
- A ripe peach, diced (because it’s Jersey peach season!)
- A little less than a quarter of a red onion, diced (it was kind of a big one; maybe use more if you have a smaller onion)
- One jalapeño, seeded and diced
- One small tomato, cored and diced
- A little fresh parsley, minced
- Two limes, juiced
This made just enough salsa for six people to have generous helpings with their scallops. I tossed everything but the lime juice together, and let it sit in the fridge for a few hours. When it was about ready to serve, I added the lime juice.
The other sides were a meyer lemon risotto, which started with just a basic risotto with onions, arborio rice, chicken stock. I’ll write more about how I do risotto sometime soon. Once it was done cooking, I added meyer lemon juice (I use these lemons because they are a little on the sweeter side) and zest, grated parmigiana reggiano. I usually use gran padano but couldn’t find any today, so that had to do. Finally, I cooked four slices of bacon in the oven, cooked some haricots verts in the fat, crumbled the bacon, and tossed them together.