Can you believe that I’m cooking scallops now? Times really are a-changing! But for me, the real star of this meal is the saffron-cream sauce. It is so flavorful and colorful, and it goes as great with scallops as it does with cornmeal-crusted tilapia. I really enjoy cooking scallops because it’s hard to mess them up (they cook in a flash) and because they look so beautiful with a solid sear on them. If you’ve never experimented with scallops before, then I encourage you to give them a try. But if you’re a scallop pro, then I am confident that you’ll enjoy this preparation. There is just something special and almost romantic about it.
To make these scallops, begin by getting about 4-5 scallops per person. Examine the sides of your scallops and pull off any feet that you find– the foot is like an extra, oblong appendage on the side of the scallop. Discard the feet. Give the scallops a good rinse to get any gritty sand off of them (I didn’t know about this step, and our scallops had some added crunch), and then pat them completely dry.
Heat a pan over a high flame, and drizzle in some vegetable oil. Season the scallops on one side with salt and pepper, and then place the scallops seasoned-side down in the pan. Sear the scallops until they are golden brown, then season the top sides, and flip the scallops over in the pan. Once the second side is nicely seared, remove the scallops to a side plate, and set them aside. The scallops should still be somewhat translucent across their centers.
Finely dice 1 shallot, and add it into the pan along with a generous pinch of saffron threads. If you have Pernod, add a splash of it to the pan away from the heat, and then cook it off. If, like me, you don’t have Pernod, then drop a star anise into the pan with the shallot and pour in about 1/4 cup of white wine. Cook the wine off.
Remove the star anise, and pour in 1/2 quart of cream. Bring the cream to a simmer, and stir it frequently, allowing it to reduce somewhat. I love watching the color of the saffron infuse into the cream.
Add the scallops back into the pan to finish cooking as the cream reduces. The scallops are done when they are mostly opaque but still have a thin, translucent line across their centers. Remove the scallops from the cream as they finish cooking.
Continue reducing the cream until it is almost thick enough for your spoon to leave a mark. Once the cream nears this point, remove it from the heat. The cream will continue thickening as it cools (you can always loosen it up with a tiny bit of fresh cream if it goes too far). Once the cream has reduced, season it with salt to taste.
Transfer your scallops onto a plate, and drizzle on as much of the cream sauce as you like. I love the vibrant yellow color of this sauce, and it tastes as good as it looks. The scallops are mild and sweet and highlighted wonderfully. So pretty!
- Pernod -or- star anise and white wine
- Salt and pepper
- Vegetable oil