Seared Scallops with Creamy Carrot Puree
Makes 1½ cups carrot puree
Scallops are delicious, fancy and take about 5 minutes to cook. Growing up a vegetarian in land-locked Atlanta, GA, I spent my first few carnivorous years hesitant to dive into seafood. But after taking the scallop plunge, I’m hooked. Like most seafood, just don’t overcook them. A hot pan is very, very important, and they should come off when they are somewhat firm and bouncy without being hard. Another key is to avoid crowding the pan. Cook in two batches, if necessary. Simply divide the scallops and cooking oil in half for each batch. Try once or twice, and you will have this easy but upscale, entertaining-friendly dish mastered.
Creamy Carrot Puree Ingredients
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup diced shallot (approx 1 shallot)
1 tsp minced garlic (approx 1 clove)
2 cups peeled & ¼” sliced carrots (approx 4 medium)
½ cup filtered water
½ tsp sea salt, plus additional to taste
generous pinch of cayenne pepper
½ cup fresh-squeezed orange juice (approx 1 orange)
1 tbsp butter
Seared Sea Scallops Ingredients
12 large sea scallops, rinsed, de-muscled and thoroughly dried (approx 1 lb) *
1 garlic clove, peeled & smashed
½ tsp sea salt, divided
½ tsp fresh cracked pepper, divided
3 tbsp ghee
Creamy Carrot Puree Instructions
Before beginning carrot puree, prep scallops per ingredient list instructions, which will allow scallops to return to room temperature.
In a large cast iron skillet over medium heat, warm extra virgin olive oil until glistening and add diced shallots. Turn the heat down to medium-low and sweat shallots for 3 minutes, while stirring occasionally; shallots will have softened. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute, garlic will be fragrant. Add carrots, water, sea salt and cayenne. Raise heat to bring liquid to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook carrots for 10 minutes; carrots will have softened. Adjust heat up or down to maintain a rolling simmer. Carefully pour sauce into a blender with the orange juice and blend until creamy. Pour sauce into a small saucepan. Add butter and stir until melted. Re-season with sea salt to taste. Set pan over low heat while you cook the scallops.
Seared Sea Scallops Instructions
Return attention to the original large cast iron skillet. Wipe pan out with a paper towel. Evenly sprinkle topside of thoroughly dried scallops with ¼ sea salt & ¼ tsp pepper. Over medium-high heat, melt ghee and whole clove of garlic until glistening and very hot without smoking. Garlic clove will be sizzling fairly aggressively. Add sea scallops to the hot oil, seasoned side down. Sauté scallops 2 minutes. As soon as scallops are placed in the pan, remove and discard garlic clove, which has done its work by flavoring the oil. While the first side cooks, season the second side with ¼ tsp sea salt & ¼ tsp pepper. After 2 minutes, flip scallops with tongs. Sauté an additional 2 minutes. Raw scallops are translucent and squishy. Cooked scallops are firm and slightly opaque, but not hard.
* To remove the muscle on the scallop, run a finger along the side of the scallops. If you feel a harder piece of meat about ¾” long, pull at either end like a roll of toilet paper until a flap lifts. Gently cut off the flap with a paring knife. Clean scallops before making the carrot sauce, so that the scallops have reached room temperature before searing.
Plating food is the cook’s chance to be creative, but here’s a suggestion to get fancy! On a white plate, make ¼ cup mound of carrot puree slightly off-center. Using the backside of a spoon, place on the mound of puree and drag to the right mirroring, but not touching, the edge of the plate to create a teardrop shape of sauce. Place 3 scallops on top of the sauce. Serving something bright green on the other side of the plate is a nice compliment. Repeat for all 4 plates. Carrot sauce does not have to be hot at service, but scallops do! Serve immediately. Additional sauce may be served on the side.