Every day on the news they are talking about the crisis taking over Europe. They are talking about which sectors of the economy took a bigger or smaller hit than the same time last year, or the years previously. The one sector that sees an upswing is food. Cuisine. And most importantly, chocolate. Are we buying chocolate to make ourselves feel better? Well, it sure beats anti-depressants. But what is remarkable, and I a living proof of this, is that when people don’t have the means for other pleasures in life, they splurge on food. Think about it: you want to go on a holiday, but that will cost a lot of money. But a bag of truffles is not that destructive to your wallet. So you got for it. You go for the little things. And you take the time to enjoy them. Which, in itself is not a bad thing, because we need to step back, “stop” time and enjoy and savour every bit of it. Because, just like the small truffle, it’ll be gone in a flash.
I know for sure that my eating habits have not deteriorated in quality. I guess, that is the only thing I can splurge on and I do not regret it. Yes, I went to the market and half of it was spent on cheese, but hey, when would be the next time I get to have that good cheese? So, since this is the land where gourmet/culinary dreams come true, I was not going to leave without crossing something off my edible bucket list: scallops. I know you can find them everywhere, but there was something about having them here and calling them coquilles St. Jacques and not a boring generic name.
I was absolutely with no idea how to make them. Problem being there is a million ways of making them and then some! So how do you choose? I landed on a recipe from Dorie Greenspan. But, I read somewhere that Dorie shared this recipe somehow (not familiar with that section of her website) on French Fridays with Dorie. Apparently, the people who participate are people who have her book “Around my French table” and as much as they are allowed to share their opinions and photos on the recipe, they are not allowed to share the recipe on their blogs. But there are people who have the book and are not participants/members of French Fridays with Dorie and who have shared the recipe. Like Food Gal, where I found this. Now, this is the internet. As much as someone, like Dorie, would like you to, justifiably so, purchase the book, some people do not know about the French Fridays with Dorie stipulation and have shared the recipe. I can’t and won’t hold it against them.
All I can tell you is that we need to erect a Venus shrine in heaven to Dorie because of this recipe (did you get the coquilles St. Jacques reference? haha :/) She deserves one either way, but I just had the best gourmet lunch of my life today, where I died and went to heaven. So now you have the ticket too. Get your own scallops, your own coquilles St. Jacques shell and proudly stand as Venus on it, because you will be once you make this!
I had roughly 380 gr of scallops, weighed with their muscle, which this being a scallop it’s quite substantial, so in the end there was probably much less than that. (gently pull on the fleshy part of the muscle and it will peel off together with the membrane around the scallop. Be gentle though and do not pull forcefully or you’ll smush the scallop) But as I do like the sauces I did not adjust it. The recipe is for 1 lb of scallops. You can use as much as you’d like. You will just have some sauce leftover, which believe me, it’s so good it’s not a problem!
350-450 gr scallops, fresh, opened, cleaned, muscle removed
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup dry white wine (125 ml) (I had some chardonnay)
1/3 cup freshly pressed orange juice (80 ml) (pretty much 1 orange)
1/2 tbsp olive oil + a pat of butter (I added the butter)
salt and pepper
1 tbsp butter
1. Spread the sugar in a dry pan and heat until it browns on medium heat (I don’t know if I didn’t watch it, I turned my head for 1 second and it had liquified, oh well, so maybe that is the consistency it needs to be; Food Gal doesn’t specify if it liqufies… Which meant I needed to be extra careful with the next step)
2. Once the sugar is brown, add the wine and orange juice. This WILL spray and spatter, so proceed with caution. (I did it from a mile away) Increase the heat and reduce the liquid until it’s 1/3 cup (80 ml).
3. When done, remove from the heat and add the 1 tbsp butter and stir until it creams a bit.
4. While the sauce is reducing in step 2, start on the scallops. Melt the olive oil and butter in a frying pan. Food Gal says “on high heat”. I didn’t want to go that much on high heat because some of my scallops were tiny some were big.
5. Fry the scallops on either side and sprinkle with salt and pepper as you go. The small ones would need 1-2 minutes per side, the bigger ones maybe 3-4. My medium sized one was the best cooked (hey don’t judge, I am being honest. Do you know how hard it is to tell? Top world chefs mess this up too you know! Which just leads me to the conclusion, that oh well, I am just going to have to have some more scallops until I learn how to make them… Life is tough, eh?)
6. Remove the scallops from the frying pan when you deem they have had enough. The pan is still hot so they’ll continue cooking in the heat, so best remove.
7. Place some of the orange sauce in a plate, top with a scallop, drizzle some more of the sauce and take that chef’s hat and put it on your head, cause today, you are chef queen!
I didn’t know whether rice or quinoa would have been best with these, but I can tell you, that quinoa worked wonderfully. Just plain boiled quinoa. The quinoa has a nutty taste to it as well, which married well with the sweetness of the sauce, so it kept the same theme. Wonderful combination. I was wondering if I needed any herbs or spices, was I missing out on something? But this is so pure, so uncomplicated and unpretentious and it’s out of this world.