If you hadn’t noticed yet: I love seafood! While I frequently indulge in fresh shrimp, squid and a vast array of clams – they’re easily available and relatively cheap here in Greece – fresh scallops are actually a real luxury in this house. With their soft texture and delicate, mild flavor they’re easily one of the more popular seafoods, but really fresh scallops are not that easy to come by and once you find them they usually do come with a price tag… However, to celebrate the start of the new year
and because I am not ready to let go of the season of extravagant, eleborate meals and fancy canapésI want to feature a dish that is a little more elegant and exciting than my usual fare.
In this little dish – which is perfect to serve as an appetizer as part of a full-course dinner, as a main for a romantic dinner, or as finger food at a fancy party – fresh, tender sea-scented scallops are pan-seared until perfectly golden and served on the half-shell with a scattering of earthy little mushrooms and a luscious, nutty miso butter to add some umami. I guess you could say that ‘sea meets forest’ in this dish and it’s a very happy rendezvous – Yum!
Note: scallops – both fresh and frozen – can vary tremendously in size. I’ve used fresh scallops that were little larger than the size of a walnut after cooking, so I’ve written the recipe below according to that size. The number of scallops listed in the recipe below are for a small appetizer for 2 people (about 3 large scallops, or 9 small ones, each). However, I’m afraid you might have to eyeball the serving-sizes a little and adjust it according to the size of scallop you can find.
Seared Scallop with Miso Butter and Mushrooms
- 1 tablespoon white miso paste
- 30g butter, room temperature / softened
- 1 + ½ tablespoon of vegetable oil
- 70g small mushrooms (such as: enoki, shimeji, nameko, baby king oyster, or small shiitake)
- Pepper, to taste
- 6 large fresh scallops in the shell, or about 18 small (bay) scallops
- Few chive sprigs, or green onion, for decorating
- Make miso butter: Add softened butter and miso paste to a small bowl. Beat together until smooth. Set aside.
- Clean scallops: Open the scallop shells and remove the skirt and dark innards of the scallop (keep the white meat and leave orange part attached if you like it). Clean and rinse the rounded side of the shells to serve the scallop in later. Set scallop meat aside onto a plate.
- Prep the mushrooms: keep tiny mushrooms whole, or cut large ones in half, or very thin slices.
- Heat the pan: Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a nonstick frying-pan, or skillet over high heat. Make sure your pan gets really hot.
- Fry mushrooms: Fry mushrooms until slightly browned for about 4 - 5 minutes, then remove them from the pan onto a plate. Cover with a piece of aluminum foil to keep warm and set aside.
- Add scallops to the pan: Let the pan get really hot again and add a little more oil if necessary. Pat dry the scallops with some paper towel (get them as dry as possible) and season with a little pepper on each side (don’t add salt as the miso paste in the butter can be quite salty). Add scallops to the hot pan. The scallops should sizzle as soon as they make contact with the pan. If they don’t, wait a few seconds more before adding the scallops. Don’t overcrowd the pan and work in batches if necessary.
- Sear the scallops: Cook the scallops for 1 – 2 minutes (depending on size) on one side. Don’t move or touch the scallops, until it’s time to cook the other side. When it’s time, flip the scallops over. They should easily release from the pan and have a nice golden sear on the cooked side. If they don’t release from the pan easily, leave them a couple seconds more.
- Cook the other side: Cook the scallops on the second side for another 2 minutes. Both sides of the scallops should have a nice brown sear, whilst the sides (and inside) should look opaque. Don’t overcook the scallops, as they will become very chewy.
- Add the miso butter: When the scallops are cooked, add the miso-butter to the pan with the scallops and turn off the heat. When the butter has melted, spoon some over the scallops.
- Plate: Place the seared scallops back into the cleaned, rounded halves of the shells. Distribute the small mushrooms around the scallop. Scoop some of the melted miso butter from the pan over the scallops and mushrooms. Serve immediately.