Saturday, November 3, 2007

Oolong-crusted scallops

While visiting my mother recently I came up with a dish that nicely fulfills my original idea for this blog of creating variations on existing recipes.

I saw some giant scallops while walking through Trader Joes and I half remembered a recipe from the New York Times magazine for oolong-crusted scallops with a citrus sauce I wanted to try. I had made once before, but with bay scallops too small for the tea to make a good crust on and the big scallops seemed like they'd work much better. I also wanted to add some vegetables to it to make it more of a full dinner dish. I didn't have any loose tea on hand, but Trader Joes had some oolong tea bags that didn't turn out too badly. Here's the recipe I ended up with:

8 extra large sea scallops
leaves from 3 oolong tea bags rubbed or ground to a powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 slabs of frozen roasted red and yellow peppers, sliced into quarter-inch strips
(Each piece looked to be about half a pepper. Frozen is important as the released juices form the bulk of the sauce. Fresh would work but bottled would be a poor choice.)
1/2 large lemon
(the original recipe uses lemon, lime and orange juices but with the addition of the peppers just lemon is a better match)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper

Mix oolong tea with salt in a shallow bowl or small plate.

Defrost scallops if necessary and pat dry.

Heat olive oil in non-stick pan on medium high heat.
(the original recipe uses a cast iron pan for the scallops and a separate saucepan for the sauce. Non-stick still gives a good sear, and it allows me to capture the stray tea, the scallop juices and the leftover olive oil into the sauce. It's not the light and elegant sauce of the original, but with the addition of the peppers, that wasn't what I was going for. It also allows me to eliminate the butter from the sauce and make the recipe arguably healthy.)

Press both sides of the scallops into the tea mixture and add them to the pan.
Sear for two to three minutes on each side until a good caramelized crust forms.

Remove scallops to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.

Add peppers to the pan and reduce heat to medium low. Cook until the released juices begin to thicken.
Squeeze lemon into pan, stir to mix and cook until the sauce thickens again. Season to taste.
Add sauce to scallops and serve.
(I served this with a brown rice/wild rice mix which worked pretty well. Hearty grains of some sort seemed required.)

Were the results better than the original recipe? I don't know if I could say that. I do think it takes better advantage of the earthy flavor the oolong tea imparts to scallops.

I suppose I should have taken photos, but I'm still new to this blogging thing and I'm resisting the urge to document every on-topic activity I do. Also, I wasn't happy with my plating.

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