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The Food Processor

Lime Sets Off Scallops' Delicate Flavor

November 28, 1986|JANE SALZFASS FREIMAN | Freiman is a New York-based food writer

A friend who makes her living as a caterer reports that her clients currently favor main courses of fish or seafood as opposed to the old standby chicken and beef dishes.

It is not entirely surprising to learn that habits are changing, even when friends come to dinner, given the current emphasis on eating healthful, light foods.

As everyone knows, fish and shellfish are low in fat and good for you. Yet many people hesitate serving fish fillets to guests for a variety of reasons.

Shellfish such as scallops, however, seem to be less of a problem (there are no bones). They are still low in fat, yet full of flavor, and scallops accompanied by an interesting sauce make a wonderful main course.

A Dish With Dash

This dish of scallops accompanied by lime butter sauce is particularly easy to make. Scallops cook very quickly, and the sauce can be finished in about two minutes using the food processor.

This sauce is a basic butter sauce used in many restaurants. It is so popular because it can take on many flavors. Lime works well with scallops because its acidity sets off the scallop flavor. The sauce is made in two steps. First, garlic and shallots are simmered with wine and lime juice until the liquid boils away and becomes concentrated.

No Stovetop Cooking

Because acid concentrates can hold many times their own weight in fat, this small amount of wine can "absorb" six ounces of butter. Mixing butter into the reduction, as the wine mixture is called, is easiest to do in the processor because it requires no stovetop cooking.

Scallops with lime sauce would go well with rice, carrots or Chinese pea pods, or it could be paired with fresh thin noodles tossed with butter and chives. Take care when choosing an accompaniment that the ingredients do not overpower the delicacy of the lime sauce.

SCALLOPS WITH LIME BUTTER SAUCE

1 clove garlic, peeled

3 shallots, peeled

1 cup dry white wine

2 tablespoons lime juice

1 1/2 pounds large sea scallops, rinsed

3 tablespoons melted butter

2 tablespoons oil

Grated peel of 2 small limes

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

3/4 cup melted unsalted butter, warm

1 1/2 tablespoons minced chives

Insert metal blade in processor container. Mince garlic and shallots by adding to machine with motor on. Transfer to medium non-aluminum saucepan. Add wine and lime juice. Simmer until mixture reduces to 1/3 cup. Strain and discard solids.

Pat scallops dry with paper towels and brush with melted butter. Heat stovetop fish grill or broiler and brush with oil. Grill or broil scallops, turning once, until just cooked through and scallops turn opaque. Transfer to heated dish and cover with foil.

Meanwhile, reheat strained wine reduction and place in processor with lime peel, teaspoon salt and teaspoon black pepper. With motor on, add unsalted butter in slow thin stream within 30 seconds. Process 5 seconds and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Add any scallop juices accumulating in dish to sauce and pulse to mix.

Spoon 3 to 4 tablespoons sauce on heated dinner plates. With tongs, transfer scallops to plate and garnish with chives. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.

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