SERVES 4 to 6
No matter what flavors you pair with scallops, the greatest flavor of all is the scallop itself and no cooking technique delivers that pure flavor like deep frying, which seals in all the juices and flavor. Medium size bay or sea scallops (20-30 per pound) or even smaller sizes (30-40 per pound) are best suited for deep frying. Large scallops are better for grilling or sautéing.
In this recipe, I take the classic New England dish of fried scallops with coleslaw and tartar sauce and give it a Mediterranean twist. Prepare the fry mix, fennel slaw and aioli in advance. After that it will take only minutes to prepare the final dish.
For equipment, you will need a 4-quart Dutch oven and a deep fry thermometer or an electric deep fryer, a Chinese wire mesh skimmer or a wore pasta basket, a pair of tongs, and a sheet pan lined with paper towels.
RED PEPPER AIOLI
1 1/2 pounds medium size bay or sea scallops
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups cornmeal fry mix
Canola, grape seed or peanut oil for frying, about 6 cups
Fennel Slaw and fennel fronds for garnish
Roast Pepper and Garlic Aioli
Pick over the scallops, removing the strap and any pieces of shell that might be mixed in. Keep refrigerated.
Heat 3 inches of oil to the desired temperature in a 4 to 5-quart Dutch oven over medium heat or in a deep fryer.
You will be frying in 2 batches to avoid all the problems that happen when you overcrowd your fryer. In anticipation of this, line a baking sheet with paper towels and preheat your oven to 250F.
While the oil is heating, pour the buttermilk into a large bowl and the fry mix in another. Drop the seafood into the buttermilk and stir the seafood gently. Using a Chinese wire mesh skimmer or a wire pasta basket, carefully lift up half of the scallops, allowing the excess buttermilk to drip back into the bowl. Drop them into the fry mix. Gently toss the seafood in the bowl to coat evenly with the mix, then lift them out with the skimmer, which has been washed and thoroughly dried. Gently shake off the excess fry mix.
When the oil is hot, drip the scallops carefully into the oil. Let them cook for 15 to 20 seconds without moving them; if moved, some of the breading could fall off, making the dish greasy. Then stir the scallops gently so they fry evenly. Stay right there over the fryer, moving the seafood occasionally. Cook for about 2 minutes until golden and crisp.
Using the mash strainer, lift the scallops from the oil, allowing them to drain a little over the pot; then transfer them to the paper towel-lined baking sheet. The towels will absorb the excess cooking oil. Keep the scallops warm in your oven while you fry the second batch.
Place a portion of the fennel slaw at the top of the center of the plate. Spoon the Aioli in the front of the plate and place the fried scallops between the slaw and the Aioli. Garnish with the fennel fronds.
Sharpen your knife, because the thinner you cut the fennel, the better this dish will be!
2 small (10 ounce) or 1 large head fennel
1 small (4 ounce) sweet onion, such as Vidalia, Texas Sweet or Maui
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, chopped
1/4 cup Filippo Berio extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Kosher or sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Trim off the fennel stalks, reserving 4 beautiful fronds to garnish the plate. Then save the sprigs from 8 fronds and chop them finely (there should be about 2 tablespoons) and set them aside. Halve the bulbs from top to bottom, cut out and discard the cores. Use a knife to trim the leathery outer pieces down to the tender flesh. Slice across the grain of the fennel halves with a very sharp chef's knife to create very thin slices. Peel and halve the onion, then shave across the grain with a chef's knife to create very thin slices.
Toss the fennel, fennel fronds, onions, and fennel seeds together in a medium bowl. Add lemon juice, oil, sugar and toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. To serve, bring the slaw to room temperature.
This recipe makes more Aioli than you will need, but it is hard to make less. After it is made save one cup for another use. The Aioli that is served with the scallops will need to be thinned slightly with water so it can be spread on the plate.
2 egg yolks
4 cloves garlic, peeled
2 medium size red bell peppers, roasted, stemmed, peeled and seeded
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil
Kosher or sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Place the egg yolks, garlic, roasted peppers and lemon juice in the bowl of your food processor. Puree for about 2 minutes until the mixture is very smooth.
With the machine running, slowly pour the oil through the feed tube until a creamy emulsion has formed. Season with salt, pepper and Tabasco to taste. Keep refrigerated.
CORNMEAL FRY MIX
1 1/4 cups King Arthur™ Unbleached, All-Purpose Flour
3/4 cup corn meal
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon freshly grated black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
Combine the flour, cornmeal, lemon peel, thyme, black pepper, cayenne pepper and salt.
Store in an airtight glass container and keep refrigerated.
Jasper White presented this recipe on show 1722, Scallops as You Like Them — Cappesante a Piacere.
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