Pan Seared Scallops with Cauliflower Puree from Chef John Ash

Seafood, Gluten-free, American
Preparation Time 40 minutes
Difficulty Medium

Yield 4 servings

This recipe depends on getting the best scallops available. Diver scallops (which are also known as dry pack) are those that are harvested daily and never put into a brine solution. As a result, the texture is meatier and they sear or grill beautifully, as opposed to those that have been soaking in a brine solution which is often laced with tripolyphosphate which is a preservative and encourages the scallop to soak up water . Recipe makes more cauliflower puree than you’ll need but that’s a good thing! Cover and refrigerate for another use. Terrific with 2016 Russian River Ranches Chardonnay.

Cauliflower puree (recipe follows)

Avocado oil as needed
1/4 cup drained capers, patted dry
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1-1/4 pounds diver scallops, side muscle removed
1 tablespoon unsalted butter; more as needed
2 teaspoons finely chopped tarragon

Cauliflower puree

Makes about 1 quart

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and diced
4 medium cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 2-pound head cauliflower, trimmed and cut into florets
2 cups heavy cream or chicken stock (or a combination of the two)
1 sprig thyme
Kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
Drops of lemon juice and cayenne to taste

In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes; lower heat as necessary to prevent browning.

Add cauliflower, cream and/or stock, and thyme. Cover, bring to a simmer, and cook, adjusting heat to maintain simmer, until cauliflower is tender, about 20 minutes. Uncover and continue to simmer for another 3 or 4 minutes to thicken the liquid. Discard thyme sprig.

Using a blender or immersion blender, blend cauliflower and liquid to form a very smooth purée. Season to your taste with salt, white pepper, drops of lemon juice and a little cayenne. You can adjust purée consistency as needed: Thicken by cooking down further while stirring often over low heat or thin by whisking in liquid, such as stock, cream, or water. Serve warm.

Heat 1/4 inch of the oil in a medium deep sided saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the capers and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon thyme and cook until the capers are golden and crisp, about 2 minutes. Add the lemon zest, cook for just a few seconds, and then, using a slotted spoon, transfer the capers, thyme, and zest to a paper-towel-lined plate.

Pat the scallops dry. Heat a large heavy duty non stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add a tablespoon or so of oil and the butter. Season the scallops with salt. Working in batches if necessary to keep from crowding, cook the scallops, undisturbed, until very well browned on one side, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip and cook until just barely cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes more, depending on size. Transfer to a plate. Repeat, if necessary, wiping out the pan and adding more butter and oil as needed.

Spoon some of the cauliflower purée among serving plates, and top with the scallops. Garnish with the fried capers and tarragon, and serve.

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