Saturday, December 29, 2007

Seven Seafoods 2007: Recipe for Scallops Piccata (Χτένια Πικάντικο)

Scallops Piccata, with its vibrant lemon sauce, is a variation of Veal Piccata, a classic Italian dish. Although purists may claim capers don’t belong in Piccata sauce, I enjoy the piquant flavors of capers and lemon together. Capers also pair particularly well with seafood, so I included them in my Scallops Piccata recipe.

Capers are sold pickled or preserved in salt. Salt helps retain the subtle floral flavor of capers, which too often is overwhelmed by the vinegar used during pickling. For this reason, I recommend using salt-cured capers whenever capers are used uncooked or cooked for only a short time, as they are in Scallops Piccata.

Many gourmet stores carry salted capers, and they are available from internet sellers. Salt-cured capers are not cheap, but because of their intense flavor, are worth buying. For more information about capers, go here.

Scallops PiccataPan Seared Scallops Piccata (Χτένια Πικάντικο)
Serves 2 as a main course or 4 as an appetizer

4 Tbsp. capers (preferably preserved in salt)
12 large scallops (about 1 pound)
Freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 Tbsp. butter

If using salt-preserved capers, rinse off the salt and let them soak in cold water for 10 – 15 minutes, and rinse them again. If using brined capers, rinse off the brine. Dry the capers and roughly chop them if they are large.

Wash the scallops, removing any tough muscle clinging to the side of the scallop. Dry and season them on both sides with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

ScallopHeat the olive oil over high heat in a frying pan large enough to hold the scallops. If you are serving more than two people as a main course, you may need to use two frying pans for this task; scallops too close together in a pan will steam rather than pan-fry.

When the oil is very hot, add the seasoned scallops, and cook for 2 – 3 minutes, depending on the size of the scallops. Turn the scallops over and cook for 2 – 3 minutes more. Except for turning them over the one time, do not move the scallops or fidget with them while they cook. The scallops will brown better if they aren’t repeatedly turned.

While the scallops are cooking, warm up a plate (this is easiest to do in a microwave; put the dry plate in the microwave for 1 minute on high). When the scallops are done, put them on the warmed plate while you make the sauce.

Add the lemon juice and white wine to the frying pan, scraping up any browned bits or caramelization on the bottom of the pan. Cook until the liquid has reduced to 1/3 cup. Turn off the heat and whisk in the butter, 1 Tbsp. at a time. Stir in 3 Tbsp. of the capers.

Spoon a pool of sauce onto each of 2 (or 4) plates, top with the browned scallops, and sprinkle with the remaining capers.


Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

I will have to keep a look out for salt cured capers. See what you learn from all the intersting blogs out there! I had no idea there was an alternative.I wanted to wish you a happy New Year...I hope 2008 is all that you hope for and that we will be the recipients of many more delicious recipes!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Another recipe added to my list to try. Thanks!


ThreeTastes said...

Oh, dear, scallops and capers . . . T will not forgive me if we don't try this soon! We had a more mundane chicken version last week. Beautiful job on the browning of those scallops — always tricky to do because they're so juicy.
Happy New Year to you and yours!
(chair, pro tem, "NPR Geeks United")

Peter M said...

Great sauce Laurie as it complements (not compete) with the flvour of the scallops.

Laurie Constantino said...

Thanks Valli, for your kind wishes. Happy New Year to you and I hope you have a fabulous 2008 and get to Greece at least once during the year!

Paz, you are very welcome. Glad you liked it!

Manju, the key to browning scallops is to not move them around as they are cooking (which is always a temptation). If you lift one up to flip it and it hasn't yet browned, immediately put it back in the same spot and let it cook 1 minute longer. Happy New Year from a humble member of NPRGU.

Exactly Peter, that is why it is so good!

Katie Zeller said...

Your whole dinner looks fanatastic - but especially the scallops - my favorite.
I've never had periwinkles, but growing up in the middle of the U.S. we were not exposed to any seafood. It's all new but after living in Ireland and Andorra I'm learning - and loving! (The Spanish and Andorrans are big seafood eaters - our markets had huge quantities of fresh every day from the coast - except Monday)

Unknown said...

Wow, I love the clue on how to get a good sear on the scallops. Now, come down to the lower 48 and make them for me. :)

Laurie Constantino said...

Thanks, Katie! I also liked the scallops. I've read that the Irish and Portuguese are big periwinkle eaters. The lesson for me about the periwinkles, which I've learned more than once, is to try all food with an open mind.

Lannae, I'd love to!