My husband and I once traveled to a remote coastal town in Maine in search of the perfect seared scallops. Unfortunately for us, the chef was having an off night, and so the pinnacle of our scallop-tasting experiences eluded us.
But now, it just might be here, in these butter-seared scallops with a trifecta of sauces: coconut cream infused with lemongrass and ginger, a puree of mango and lime juice, and a kiwi puree. And just in time for Valentine’s Day! I hope you make this and enjoy it with your favorite one(s).
Seared Scallops with Coconut, Mango & Kiwi
Makes 2 entrées or 4 small dishes/appetizers.
- 8 medium scallops, washed in cold water and patted thoroughly dry
- 1/4 cup creamy & thick coconut milk or coconut cream
- 1/2 lemongrass stalk, pounded to release its oils and chopped in 2
- 1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
- 1/2 to 1 tsp. salt (to taste)
- pinch of white pepper
- 1/2 mango, peel removed & coarsely chopped
- spritz of lime juice
- 2 kiwis, peel removed & coarsely chopped
- pat of butter
- sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- pinch of brown sugar
- chives to garnish
- In a small saucepan, combine the creamy coconut milk, lemongrass and ginger and bring to a boil, then turn down heat to let simmer. Simmer softly for 10-15 minutes or until nicely thickened; watch to ensure it doesn’t burn. Taste and add salt and white pepper, a bit at a time, to taste. Pour through a strainer into a small bowl and set aside.
- Meanwhile, prepare the purees: blend mango and a bit of lime juice until just combined; pour in a separate bowl and set aside. Wash out the blender container & then blend the kiwi; set aside in another bowl.
- Make sure the scallops are thoroughly dry (and when you give them a light squeeze, they don’t release any water). Pat dry again with a paper towel if in doubt. In a nonstick skillet, heat a teaspoon or so of unsalted butter on medium-high heat. When pan is very hot, add the scallops, spread out, 4 at a time. Lightly salt & pepper the top side only. After a couple minutes, when the scallops start to brown & form a golden ring around the edge, lift each one gently and sprinkle just a tiny pinch of brown sugar underneath – this will help them brown up even more all over. Cook for another 30 seconds to a minute, then flip and cook that side until done. Scallops should be just opaque but cooked through. Set aside and do the second batch of scallops.
- To plate, spoon out the kiwi puree in an arc on the outer edge of the plate, then another arc of the mango puree inside it. Plate 4 scallops each, then drizzle with the coconut milk and garnish with chives.
Notes: Try to get dry-packed scallops (or fresh!), as the chemicals used in the wet-packing process make it nearly impossible to get a good sear on the scallops. A very hot skillet, a small bit of butter, and the pinch of brown sugar will help them brown nicely regardless.
If you can’t find creamy & thick coconut milk, you may have to boil your coconut milk and reduce it for a longer time.