When I go home, my mom usually cooks and I watch (while consuming a lot of wine). This time, I had the pleasure of cooking for my family. I was happy to return the favor after all these years. I wanted to make something they’d both enjoy, and showcased different cooking techniques and ingredients. Oh and of course, was healthy.
My mom prefers Asian flavors and already had plans for a cluster of frozen bay scallops. Yes, frozen. As they thawed, I pictured bay scallops steaming in soy sauce and wine. I’d wished they were fresh sea scallops but hey, who am I to judge. Frozen fish is tricky. It can be difficult to fully remove all the water. In order to get a good sear, it needs to be dry. Whether it’s chicken, meat, fish, tofu, or tempeh, if it’s wet, all it’s going to do is steam in the pan. I offered to lend a hand and see if we could do something special with these little frozen morsels.
I was feeling a bit out of my element. I hadn’t selected the ingredients, was in a kitchen with no idea where anything was, and didn’t have the typical tools of the trade (like my lovely knives). I’m a big baby, aren’t I? Well, I love a challenge. I imagined I was in a Quick Fire challenge on Top Chef and had at it.
Thanks to some paper towels, high heat, and oil, the scallops browned beautifully and had a crispy, carmelized exterior. And it took about a half hour to make! This is a perfect weeknight dinner that comes together quickly, but tastes like it took hours to make. If you can, use fresh wild caught fish whenever possible for best results (and optimal quality fish/nutritional benefits). Next time, I’m making fresh sea scallops for them.
If you’re interested in learning more about the health benefits of wild fish over farm-raised, check out this article. Click here.
Bay Scallops with Broccolini and Fried Garlic
Note: I served this over a bed of mixed rice using (50% brown sticky rice, 25% red rice, 25% wild rice). You can use any rice, quinoa, or even pasta drizzled with olive oil if desired.
2 T olive oil
1 lb bay scallops (or sea scallops if you prefer, patted dry between paper towels)
2 large bunches broccolini, chopped into bite-size chunks
3-4 large garlic cloves, peeled and sliced horizontally
salt & pepper
1. With either frozen or fresh fish, be sure to gently pat the fish between layers of paper towels to ensure surface is dry. Season with salt and pepper right before cooking.
2. Make garlic oil. Heat oil in a pan over medium heat. Once hot, add sliced garlic and cook until golden brown. Remove from pan and reserve for later use.
3. In the same pan, using the garlic flavored oil, get the pan hot over medium-high. Add scallops being careful not to crowd the pan.
4. Sear on one side until they easily release from pan, then flip to sear the other side. Be careful not to burn anything that sticks to the pan as this will contribute to the sauce at the end. Remove from pan and reserve on plate.
5. Add broccolini to the pan, saute around over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper. Add 1/4 cup red wine. Deglaze the pan until all sucs on the bottom are removed. Cover and cook over low-medium heat for 2-3 minutes until the broccolini are tender.
6. Plate broccolini over a bed of rice. Top with scallops and garnish with fried garlic.
Bay Scallops with Broccolini