Here’s a nice little ditty for you if you’re a fan of scallops. Scallops aren’t generally the first things that pop in my head when I think “cheap”, but really, if you find them at the right place, they’re very reasonably priced. You could take this recipe and easily turn it into an appetizer, or add some pasta or other carbs if you need a bit more substance.
I’ll tell you how I liked this recipe at the bottom…
Go ahead and take your scallops out of the fridge and put them on a paper towel. They need to be dry and almost room temperature.
We’ll start by making a tomatillo and cilantro chutney. You can find these at just about any grocery store, and they’re VERY cheap. Take a handful out and peel the outside husk off.
Chop them in quarters.
Stick them in the oven with a pinch of salt on broil until they just start to get some color and sweat. Should be totally soft.
In the meantime, chop up a big clove of garlic. Set aside in a bowl.
Chop up a little piece of shallot too– or onion if you don’t have a shallot and add to the bowl.
Chop up a handful of green onions and add to the bowl.
Take a big handful of FRESH cilantro and put it in a mixer (or Magic Bullet – type mixer like me). Add the cooked tomatillos, green onions, shallot and garlic in with the cilantro. Pulverize until it’s very, very smooth. You may or may not need to add a few drops of water or salt to help it along.
In a separate small bowl, grate the zest of a lemon.
Then add the juice from that lemon. Set aside.
Peel a carrot, setting the outside peels to the side (and using a normal peeler, not this God-forsaken thing I found in our drawer).
Now just keep peeling to get some nice strands like this.
Ever had fresh fennel? I hadn’t either till I bought this. All the TV cooks love fresh fennel for some reason so I thought I’d try it. If you hate fennel, just use your favorite veggies. Peppers would be great with this.
Cut the fennel stalks up, julienne style, about the size of a matchstick.
Mix with the carrot peels. Again, feel free to be creative and use your own veggies. I was just experimenting with flavors.
Ok, my bad, I didn’t take a picture of the finished product of the chutney in the mixer. Anyway, I bought a mustard container and I use it for sauces like this. I find it very handy for dressings and such. You don’t have to though, just use a spoon if you don’t have one of these.
Now that your salad and sauce are ready, you can start on your scallops. Ideally, they should have been out on a paper towel since you’ve started cooking. They must be fresh, they CAN’T be wet when you add them to the pan, definitely not frozen, and really, not even cold. Go ahead and sprinkle each side with fresh ground pepper and salt.
Start heating up your skillet on high heat. You can either use a stainless steel pan or a nonstick one. If you use nonstick especially… listen to me… your pan has to be screaming hot, otherwise you won’t get a beautiful sear on it and they’ll just get mushy.
So add your scallops to a screaming hot pan with oil- either vegetable oil or EV olive oil, your preference.
Only flip them once. Don’t flip them until they’re golden brown. If they’re just not browning, you need to turn up the heat.
Scallops are hard to cook. Honestly, I took them on because I wanted to see if I could do it without screwing them up like a lot of people do. Do some Googling or YouTubing if you’d like to see other people do it too. The biggest trick is cooking on high heat, cooking with enough oil, waiting till they’re brown and then flipping them. The whole cook time should be roughly 1-2 minutes. Overcook them and they’ll taste like fishy rubber.
Once you’ve flipped them, after about 15-20 seconds, add your lemon juice and zest.
Cook for just another 15 or 20 seconds on high heat until most of the juice has evaporated. Put the scallops on the plate.
Add a line of the cilantro chutney, and feel free to top with a fennel sprig for decor if you’ve got it. The cost of this in a nice restaurant would easily be 3-5x more than what you’d pay. Good stuff!
Ok, now the verdict… how did I like it? Well… here’s the thing… we didn’t grow up eating fish. It’s taken years for me to like fish. I’ve hardly ever had crab or lobster. So scallops are always being cooked on TV and I used to cook them in a restaurant– so I thought, they can’t be THAT bad!
Well, honestly I puked my guts out after eating them. NOT because I didn’t cook them enough, but because my stomach simply refused to digest it or something. Anyway, not sure I’ll ever eat scallops again, so take advantage of this recipe
Here’s the price breakdown:
1/2 Carrot – $.19 ($.38 for whole carrot)
Fennel – ~$.05 for 1 serving ($2.19 for entire stalk)
Tomatillos – 1/10 of recipe for 1 serving – $.04 ($.47 for 4)
Fresh Cilantro – 1/10 of recipe for 1 serving – $.04 (1/4 bunch for recipe- $.37)($1.50 for whole bunch)
Green Onion – ~$.05 for what I used ($.90 for whole bunch)
Lemon – $.89
1/8 Shallot – $.05 ($.40 for whole shallot)
3 Scallops – $2.49 ($9.99 for container of 12 scallops – $.83 each)
1 serving: $3.80