This very simple scallop appetizer recipe only requires a few ingredients. Although this is a basic recipe you will need to work quickly, dividing the hot scallops between the serving spoons, and adding the salmon roe and basil, then distributing them among everyone while they are still hot. For this reason, it is best to lay out the sixteen Chinese soupspoons and have the salmon roe and basil sprigs ready to add. Organization is always key in a successful kitchen, and especially with recipes like this.
There are a number of ways you can adapt this dish, although the scallop ingredients and cooking method should be left intact, since they work so nicely. First, you could swap the salmon roe for caviar, and second, you could swap the basil for another herb such as cilantro or parsley. If you already have a cilantro plant growing outside, for example, there is no reason to go out and buy basil especially, since this is only for the garnish anyway.
The two fishy flavors, the scallops and the roe, work together so well, and the basil is all you need to finish the dish off. The scallops are rinsed, dried, and then fried in a hot butter oil mixture briefly on each side, to give them a lovely crusty outside. The salt and black pepper is all the seasoning they require. Do not be tempted to add more ingredients to this recipe, because it simply does not need anything else for the flavors to shine.
- 16 dry sea scallops
- ¼ cup salmon roe
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons unsalted butter
- 16 small sprigs fresh basil, for garnish
- Salt and black pepper, as needed
- Remove the side muscle from each scallop.
- Rinse under cold water, and then pat dry with paper towels.
- Add the oil and butter to a sauté pan over a high heat.
- Sprinkle salt and black pepper over the scallops.
- When the oil and butter begin to smoke, add the scallops.
- Do not let them touch each other.
- Sear them for 90 seconds per side or until they have a ¼ inch golden crust outside but are still translucent in the center.
- Put each one on a Chinese soup spoon and top with salmon roe and a sprig of basil.
- Serve right away.
This might look like a very simple recipe, and it actually is, but do not underestimate the flavor. Seasoning the scallops with salt and black pepper and sautéing them to crusty perfection gives you an outstanding appetizer. You can either serve one each as a small appetizer or add four to each plate around the salmon roe in the center and then add the basil to the salmon roe, if you wanted to serve larger appetizers. There is nothing hard about cooking scallops. Just make sure they are very dry when they go into the pan and ensure the fat is very hot before adding them.
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