Scallops with Potato Puree, Herb Oil
I love finding interesting vessels in which to serve my food. For this holiday season, I will be making my delicious seared scallops with purple potato puree, segmented orange, shaved fennel and herb oil served in scallop shells. The shells are inexpensive but have a very beautiful, festive presentation when served to guests. To start, make a delicious purple potato puree and keep it warm. Purple is one of my favorite colors and I love seeing it appear on the plate. Even if you can't find purple potatoes, the color of the potato won't change the taste. Simply buy regular Yukon gold potatoes and make a puree with butter and the cooking liquid from the potatoes. While the potatoes are boiling, segment an orange, which is an awesome technique to know beyond this recipe. Segments of orange will brighten up any winter salad or make a delicious dessert garnish. Next, shave the fennel in thin slices, and mix it with a little bit of olive oil and lemon juice to keep it nice, crisp and white. Herb oil has an equal combination of two herbs, dill and parsley, that are emulsified in a food processor with extra-virgin olive oil. For cooking the scallops, it is important to get your pan to a very hot temperature. Stainless steel will produce a better browning effect, but I have done it in a non-stick pan, as well. Pick scallops that are firm and unified in size. Wash and dry them gently as they may have traces of sand left in them. Season the scallops with salt and a little pepper, and then sear for few minutes or less on each side. They will release from the pan easily when they are ready to be flipped or picked up. To serve, smear puree onto each shell and top it with the scallop. Then garnish the dish with orange, fennel, fennel frond and herb oil. Sprinkle with mildly spicy red pepper on top, which I think always adds a pretty color to a plate. If possible, serve warm or at least at room temperature.
Ingredients: scallops, orange, fennel, potatoes, dill, parsley, chives, extra-virgin olive oil, butter, salt, mild red pepper.
To puree potatoes: As you peel and cut potatoes in half, place them in medium pot filled with enough cold water to cover potatoes by 2 inches. Place the pot on medium-high heat, add salt and as potatoes begin to boil, lower the heat to medium and continue cooking for about 10 minutes. Insert the knife into a potato and check for doneness.
Transfer potatoes to a food processor or Vitamix, add 1 tablespoon butter and 1/8 cup potato cooking liquid. Process until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed, adding freshly ground white pepper at the end. Alternatively, use a potato masher; in fact, it produces better results, as food processor will extract too much starch.
Make herb oil: Simply chop dill and parley roughly, transfer to food processor or Vitamix. Add half of oil, process by adding the rest of oil in one stream, until herb oil is emulsified.
To segment an orange: Slice off the bottom and top of an orange.
Using a paring knife carefully cut away rind in strips.
Clean any remaining white pith with the knife.
Then working over the bowl, slice into fruit along each membrane letting supremes fall into the bowl. Set aside.
For the fennel: Using mandoline slicer(thinest setting) or with a knife, slice fennel bulb very thinly.
Transfer to a bowl, squeeze a little lemon juice to stop it from browning, add a dash of olive oil and salt. Mix to combine and set aside.
To sear scallops: Heat butter in a large frying pan over medium high-heat; add a splash of vegetable oil to prevent butter from burning. Season scallops with salt and pepper; add them to the pan without overcrowding. Cook, without moving the scallops, until the bottoms are a rich golden brown, 2 minutes on each side. Transfer on a plate lined with paper towel to absorb extra oil.
To serve: Smear a spoonful of potato puree into each shell/or small plate. Top with scallop.
Add orange segment and shaved fennel. Drizzle with herb oil. Garnish with fennel/or dill fronds and season with mildly spicy red pepper.
Serve warm with small spoons.
Scallops with Potato Puree, Herb Oil