When Jonah’s parents were in town, we had them over for dinner. My dad had sent me a recipe for these scallops with reduced carrot sauce that he made a couple times when I was younger. This is the recipe that made me discover scallops. I used to think scallops were gross, the texture was a little too slimy for me, so I never ever ate them. But this sauce was so good that I tried one of the scallops that was drenched in it, and now scallops are one of my favorite seafoods.
This recipe is from The Herbfarm Cookbook, which is a book my dad uses all the time. The Herbfarm is a restaurant in Woodinville, Washington (near where I grew up). I’ve never eaten there, partially because $$$$$$ and partially because you have to make reservations hella in advance. Anyway, if you’re in the market for a beautiful cookbook with lots of good recipes, here’s one to check out.
Seared Sea Scallops with Carrot-Marjoram Sauce
Serves 4 people
2 cups fresh carrot juice (one of those personal Odwalla bottles is usually 2 cups)
1/2 cup dry white wine or dry vermouth
3 Tbl freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 medium shallot, finely chopped (about 1/3 cup)
1/4 tsp salt
4 Tbl unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 8 pieces
8 3-inch sprigs fresh marjoram, tied together with kitchen twine (if you can’t find marjoram, you can substitute fresh tarragon or fresh lemon thyme)
1 1/2 pounds large sea scallops (~12), untreated (dry-pack)
salt and pepper
2 Tbl vegetable or olive oil
A warning before we start. This recipe is long. But it’s not really that hard, it just seems hard because there are a lot of steps. However, it is totally worth it because these scallops and this sauce are so delectable. I promise. Just try it. I’m going to type it out in the same steps as in the cookbook because it breaks it down into little pieces. Quite nice if you ask me.
Combine the carrot juice, 1/4 cup of the wine, the lemon juice, shallot, and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat just enough to maintain a steady boil. Cook the mixture until reduced to about 1/2 cup of liquid. The sauce should be thicker, about “the same consistency as pulpy orange juice.” This should take about 20-30 minutes. You can do this step ahead of time and stick the mixture in the fridge overnight.
Reduce the heat so the sauce is gently simmering and add the butter, one piece at a time. Whisk the butter in, and wait until each piece is melted and incorporated before adding another. Return the sauce to a simmer, whisking constantly. Add the bundle of marjoram, submerging it completely in the sauce, and remove the pan from heat. Set aside till you’re done cooking the scallops!
It’s time to sear the scallops. I’ll let you know that Jonah and I struggled a little bit with this step, mostly because we decided to try to use our cast iron skillet (the recipe says to use a heavy bottomed saute pan). We’ve had some trouble, despite reading about how to cook in a cast iron and clean and care for it, with things sticking to the pan, and can’t really figure out what we’re doing wrong. Anyway. The recipe also says to heat your oven to 175 and then turn it off and you can put the scallops in there to warm them, but our oven was otherwise occupied, so we just put them on a rack on a pan.
Pat the scallops dry and season them lightly with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in whatever pan you choose to use until it is very hot and smoking. Using tongs, carefully put the scallops flat side down in the pan. Let them cook without touching them for 2-3 minutes or until the side touching the pan is a deep golden brown. Then turn them and cook them another 1-2 minutes on the other side. When you turn them, you want to preferable put them in a different part of the pan, where there has not just been a scallop. When they’re done cooking, remove them from the pan and put them in the oven or on a rack or whatever you choose to do.
Reduce the heat to medium and add the other 1/4 cup of wine. Scrape up the little browned bits in the pan and add the liquid from the pan to the carrot juice.
Remove the marjoram bundle from the carrot sauce, squeeze it dry, and get rid of it. Reheat the sauce over medium heat, whisking in the oil/wine mixture from the scallop pan. Season to taste with salt and pepper if needed. If you want the sauce to be super smooth, you can put it through a fine sieve. I like the little scallop bits and shallots, so we skipped the straining. Now put the scallops on plates, dress them with the sauce, and enjoy!