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Quick Fix

Hot Tip: Prepare the Skillet

October 02, 2002|CHRISTY HEDGES | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The key to a well-cooked scallop--one with a dark golden crust and a melting tender middle--is a very hot pan. Put your skillet on the fire first, then add some oil and sear the scallops for just a couple of minutes on each side.

The dividend for the cook, of course, is speed. What could be a faster or more sophisticated main course?

If you're in the mood to splurge, buy "dry-pack" or "day boat" scallops, which stand up to searing much better than the ordinary scallop because they contain much less water. Dry scallops are not treated with the chemicals often used to retain scallops' size and shape, so you also get a truer, more delicate scallop flavor.

Serve this scallop dish with a crusty French baguette. All you'll need are some sweet nectarines laced with a little Grand Marnier to complete the meal.

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Seared Scallops in Mediterranean Broth

Active Work and Total Preparation Time: 20 minutes

1 stalk celery, diced

1 onion, diced

1 carrot, diced

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 cup white wine

1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with juice

3/4 cup chicken stock

1/2 teaspoon saffron threads

1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest

1/8 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon salt

16 Lucques olives or other French green olives, pitted

3 teaspoons capers

2 tablespoons canola oil

12 scallops, if very large slice in half horizontally so they are no more than 1 1/2 inches thick

Cook the celery, onion and carrot in the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until transparent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the wine and simmer 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and the chicken stock. Add the saffron, orange zest, pepper flakes, salt, olives and capers. Reduce the heat to medium and continue to simmer while preparing the scallops.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over high heat. If the scallops are very moist, pat them dry with paper towels. Add to the skillet and sear about 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Do not try to move the scallops until they release easily. The scallops should be golden brown on the outside but still tender inside.

Divide the broth among 4 large shallow soup bowls. Place 3 scallops in the middle of each bowl.

4 servings. Each serving: 305 calories; 838 mg sodium; 28 mg cholesterol; 15 grams fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 22 grams carbohydrates; 18 grams protein; 3.68 grams fiber.

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MENU

Seared Scallops in Mediterranean Broth

Baguette

Nectarines With Grand Marnier

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STAPLES

Canola oil

Carrot

Celery

Chicken stock

Garlic

Olive oil

Onion

Dried red pepper flakes

1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes

White wine

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SHOPPING LIST

Baguette

Capers

Lucques olives

Grand Marnier

Nectarines

Orange

Saffron

12 scallops

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GAME PLAN

20 minutes before: Dice and saute vegetables; simmer broth.

10 minutes before: Sear scallops.

5 minutes before: Heat baguette.

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Quick Fix Video on the Web

Now you can watch a Quick Fix dish being prepared in a weekly video on The Times Web site. Times Test Kitchen Director Donna Deane demonstrates the key steps of this week's Quick Fix recipe. Also, take a quick video tour of the new Times Test Kitchen. Check it out: www.la times.com/food

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