Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Vietnamese Braised Scallops

When we had dinner in Carmel, we were served the most perfectly cooked steamed scallop with a hint of meyer lemon. While I don't think I can ever hope to perfectly cook a scallop like that, the dinner did remind me how much I enjoy scallops. Since I don't think we're ever going to get scallops in our seafood CSA, I decided to hunt them out at the farmer's market where $11.50 will buy you a pound of beautiful dry large sea scallops. Overall, this recipe is fairly simple, but it does require a bit of patience and trust that the caramel will turn out. That's the hardest part though and well worth the risk for slightly sweet scallops with just a touch of heat. I recommend serving with rice to soak up a bit of the sauce.

One year ago: Chicken Curry with Whole Spices, Cream, and Tomatoes
Two years ago: Beef Enchiladas with Chipotle-Pasilla Chili Gravy
Three years ago: Peanut Butter Cheesecake Brownies

Vietnamese Braised Scallops (from All About Braising)

1/2 cup water, divided
1/4 cup fish sauce
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 shallots, minced
1 1/2 lb sea scallops, muscle removed
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 scallions, thinly sliced, white and green parts separated

1. In a measuring cup or small bowl, combine 1/4 cup water and fish sauce.
2. Put sugar in a heavy-based skillet just large enough to hold scallops in a single layer. Pour remaining 1/4 cup water over it and let sit for a minute to soak in.
3. Heat skillet over medium heat until sugar liquefies. You can stir once or twice, but don't stir constantly and most importantly be patient! The sugar will liquefy and begin to darken. If it's boiling unevenly, you can swirl the pan, but for the most part, just leave it alone. Let it get very dark, but not black, 8 - 10 minutes. When it begins to smoke and smell toasty, it's done.
4. Carefully, pour water and fish sauce into the caramel. Stir and let it boil until you have a smooth, thick sauce, 4 minutes.
5. Add shallots, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 2 minutes.
6. Stir in red pepper flakes and white part of scallions.
7. Add scallops in a single layer, partially cover, and simmer for 4 - 5 minutes.
8. Turn scallops and simmer until cooked through, 3 - 5 minutes.
9. Transfer scallops to warm plate and spoon over some of the sauce. Garnish with scallion greens and serve.

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