Here’s a little story about how dinner came about.
On our first day of ‘hols’ -as they are commonly referred to in the UK- we all enjoyed shrimp and steamers, procured from Barnacle Bill’s Seafood Shack. During our dinner discussion, the topic of every one’s favorite shell fish/seafood came up, and the majority of us ranked sea scallops in the top five, if not the top three. Since we’d already decided to take turns making dinner, I thought to myself what a good idea making sea scallops would be.
However, I hemmed and hawed quite a bit about what to make for a side. In the end, I chose one of my favorite side dishes, a recipe that I share courtesy of my very close friend Minda, who makes it better than anyone ~ Mashed Cauliflower.
Additionally, because as I may have mentioned, this girl cannot get enough avocado, I made my Avocado & Mandarin Orange Salad, spiced up this time with some diced red onion. Delish.
In general, dinner turned out a-okay, and it’s always a good sign when hands reach out to dole out seconds onto their cleaned plate. A triumph, Mrs. Cratchit! A triumph I say!
What was on our shopping list for Mashed Cauliflower & Sea Scallops~
Chicken Bouillon (about 2 cups)
1 head of cauliflower
1/4 cup Sour Cream (or in layman’s speak, a few heaping dollops)
1/4 cup Butter (divided into tablespoons)
1/4 cup Milk (not always necessary)
Salt & Pepper
What to do:
1. Preheat oven to 425.
2. Break up cauliflower into small florettes, and fill a glass baking dish. Pour chicken stock over cauliflower (leaving a small amount in the bottom of the dish).
3. Season liberally with cumin and paprika.
4. Put in oven for approximately 40 minutes. Stir often, to ensure that cauliflower is not drying out.
5. When it appears to be cooked to the proper temp (aka, falling apart easily), remove from oven, and transfer florettes into mixing bowl. ** Drain out excess chicken stock.
6. Add 1-2 tbsps butter (use judgement wisely ~ you don’t want it either too soupy, or too dry!), two heaping dollops of sour cream, and mash together with potato masher. If necessary, mash in milk to achieve good consistency. The point is to try to mirror the appearance and texture of mashed potatoes as closely as possible.
7. Use hand mixer if you feel it’s necessary to smooth out the texture.
8. Season with salt & pepper to taste.
The Salad (a refresher):
*** These ingredients serve 8! Just so you know!
2 cans Mandarin Orange segments, drained
4 avocados, diced
1/2 large red onion, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
Juice of 1.5 lemons
Salt & Pepper
Handful of cilantro, finely chopped
What to do:
1. Whisk olive oil, lemon juice, salt & pepper together to taste.
2. Whisk in cilantro.
3. Combine mandarin oranges, onions & avocado in a bowl. Pour vinaigrette over, and fold together gently (don’t do it too aggressively or the oranges will splinter apart).
For the Scallops:
**We used 3.41 lbs of fresh sea scallops.
1. Rinse scallops in colander. Remove and place on paper towels or kitchen towels, and pat dry.
2. In a large, flat sauce pan, heat 1-2 tbsps butter and a tbsp olive oil over high heat. When the pan begins to smoke, sprinkle the scallops you are about to cook with some salt (SPRINKLE! Don’t liberally douse!), and place them in the pan.
3. DON’T MOVE THE SCALLOPS while they cook. Allow them to cook for approximately 2 minutes on the first side. When you flip them, they should be seared on the underside, and the flesh should be turning from transluscent to opaque. (** A properly cooked scallop looks vaguely transluscent in the very center when you cut through it).
4. Cook for approximately one minute on the second side.
5. Scallops should be evenly browned on both sides.
6. Serve immediately (I drizzled some of my lemon cilantro vinaigrette over each scallop to give it some added zing).
I completely and totally enjoyed this meal, but due to the hefty price tag of fresh sea scallops, John and I will not be cooking these guys on a regular basis. However, if you have the opportunity to either cook sea scallops, or have them at a restaurant, I strongly urge you to try them. Just remember as you are cooking, you don’t want to overcook the scallops! If you press the scallop and it feels firm, it’s overcooked. So err on the side of caution ~ once you remove the scallops from the heat, they will continue to cook for a little bit, because of being cooked on such high heat. Make sure the butter is slightly smoking when you pop them in the pan, and resist the urge to check them, or move them around ~ I know you can do it, because I managed to have enough self discipline to restrain myself and I am the queen of impatience!