We have invited friends over for dinner this week and I have volunteered to cook the entree – seared scallops with a cauliflower vanilla puree and crispy pancetta.
Since I have never actually cooked scallops before (despite them being one of my ALL time favourite foods EVER), I decided to leave nothing to chance and have a trial run tonight. For someone who doesn’t do a lot of savoury meals (this is best left to TC in my opinion), I found it surprisingly easy. Granted, there are only 3 main ingredients to the dish, but I had heard so much about how not to cook scallops and how they must be cooked just right, it was a little bit daunting beforehand. However, TC pronounced them “approved” for the opening night, so that means they are (so far) a success. You do have to be quick with these scallops – I used a timer and was glad I did!
In the meantime, TC and I enjoyed this rather special little entree with a nice drop of red. (Yes I know you are supposed to have white wine with seafood, but its cold out, and we were following this with a spicy pork stir-fry, so we just went with a nice red, ok??)
And quite a nice syrah it was too, especially for the price (7€). We have become quite fond of wines from the Minervios region (amongst others) as we taste our way through the amazing bounty there is available in the south of France. I think we might need to get some more of this in for “the dinner” later in the week. This is also for The Drunken Cyclist, who asked in his post, “what was your wine of the week?” If you like wine, head over to check out his blog!
Bon appétit, à bientot!
6 slices pancetta
fresh thyme leaves, sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, mild chilli powder
1/2 tbspn olive oil
knob of butter
knob of butter
For the cauliflower puree: add the cauliflower, milk and vanilla pod to a saucepan, bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 10min or until tender. Strain the cauliflower, reserving the milk, discarding the vanilla pod. Process the cauliflower in a processor until smooth, adding just enough reserved milk and a knob of butter to achieve a smooth and not too thick consistency. Set aside.
*Note – the puree can be made a day ahead and reheated for serving. I am trialling this and will let you know how it reheats tomorrow.
For the pancetta: to get this crispy, it may be best to sprinkle lightly with olive oile & bake in a hot oven until crispy.
“Note – I fried mine in a very hot, non-stick pan, but I did not achieve the crispyness I wanted.
For the scallops: remove the roe with a sharp knife or scissors. Season with salt, pepper and mild chilli pepper. Heat the olive oil and a knob of butter over high heat. When the pan is very hot, add the scallops. Add the fresh thyme leaves and cook for 1 1/2 minutes on each side. Serve immediately on the cauliflower puree. Top with the pancetta.
“Note – when frying the scallops, set them out in the pan in a clockwise direction, starting at the handle so that you know where you started and the order to turn them. I used a timer for exactly 1 1/2 minutes and I thought they were just cooked perfectly. I would possibly go another 30 seconds but no longer. Having the pan very hot is important to caramelise the outside of the scallops – just beware, they will splatter and splash at you so stand back!
P.S. If you look closely at my pic, you’ll see that I actually cooked the roe as well and hid it under my pancetta! If you’re a fan, like me, you don’t have to remove it.