This is my first non-vegetarian blog post and I hope you all enjoy it. I am a huge fan of Rick Bayless an award-winning chef and cookbook author. He is also the founder of the Frontera Farmer Foundation, an organization that supports small local farmers. Rick Bayless has changed the image of Mexican food in America. In his restaurants he believes in using organic local produce and I think he has added an elegant healthy twist to mexican cuisine. I have not been to his restaurants in Chicago but I have eaten at Red O in Los Angeles many times, and it is delicious.
Last night I made one of Rick’s Dishes, Seared scallops with jalapeno cream sauce. Here is the recipe.
- 16 lg. Alaska Scallops, 20/30 count (about 1-1/4 lbs.), tough opaque “foot” on side of each scallop pulled off
- 2 T. fresh lime juice
- About 1/4 t. salt, plus more for sprinkling on the scallops
- Black pepper, freshly ground, as needed
- 1-1/2 T. olive oil
- 1-1/2 c. roasted Jalapeño-Cilantro
- Salsa (recipe on page 35)
- 1/2 c. heavy (whipping) cream or creme fraiche
- 1/3 c. fresh cilantro or parsley, chopped
Marinate scallops by rinsing them and placing them in a large bowl, along with the lime juice and a liberal sprinkling of salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for a couple of hours (no more or it will “cook” the scallops). Remove from the marinade and pat dry.
Next, sear scallops. Heat oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium high heat. Lay in scallops, making sure they’re not crowded (or they’ll stew rather than sear). If you can’t fit them in an uncrowded layer, sear in 2 batches. Fry until richly browned on one side, about 2 minutes, then turn over with tongs or spatula and sear other side 1 to 2 minutes more; scallops are done when still a little translucent in the middle. Remove to a warm plate and pour off all the oil left in the pan.
Return the pan to the heat and, when hot, add the salsa. Stir for a couple of minutes as the salsa reduces, thickens and darkens. Reduce the heat to medium-low, stir in the cream and, when hot, taste and season with salt.
To serve, ladle a portion of sauce onto each of 4 warm dinner plates, then arrange the scallops on top. Sprinkle each one liberally with chopped cilantro or parsley.
- 1-1/2 lbs. (about 6 medium) ripe tomatoes, (preferably plum)
- 2 to 3 (1 to 1-1/2 oz.) fresh jalapeño chiles, stemmed*
- 1/2 small (2 oz.) white onion, sliced 1/4-inch thick
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled
- About 1/4 c. water
- 1/3 c. fresh cilantro, loosely packed, chopped
- 1 generous t. salt
- 1-1/2 t. cider vinegar
Heat broiler. Lay whole tomatoes and jalapeños out on a broiler pan or baking sheet (many cooks like to line the pan or baking sheet with heavy duty foil to easily capture the juices and make cleanup a snap). Set the pan 4 inches below the broiler and broil for about 6 minutes, until darkly roasted — even rather blackened — on one side. The tomato skins will split and curl in places.
With tongs, flip over tomatoes and chiles and roast the other side for 6 minutes or so. The goal is not simply to char the tomatoes and chiles, but to cook them through while developing nice roasted flavors. Set aside to cool.
Turn oven down to 425 degrees F. On a similar pan or baking sheet, combine the onion and garlic (separate onion into rings) and set in oven. Stir carefully every couple of minutes, until onions are roasted (they’ll be wilted, even have a touch of char on some edges) and garlic is soft and browned in spots, about 15 minutes total. (For a smokier-flavored salsa, onion and garlic can all be done on a perforated grilling pan.)
For a less rustic salsa (or if you’re canning the salsa), pull off peel from cooled tomatoes and cut out cores where stems were attached (be sure to work over your baking sheet so you don’t waste any juices). In a food processor, pulse jalapeños (no need to peel or seed them) with onion-garlic mixture until moderately finely chopped, scraping everything down with a spatula as needed to keep it all moving around. Scoop into a big bowl. Without washing the processor, coarsely puree tomatoes and all juice that has accumulated around them and add them to bowl. Stir in enough water to give salsa an easily spoonable consistency (salsas in Mexico are usually a little smoother and saucier than they are here — not very chunky or thick). Stir in cilantro.
Taste; season with salt and vinegar, remembering this salsa should be a little feisty in its seasoning. Pour into a bowl, or refrigerate and use within 5 days.