February 8, 2013

Simple and healthy: Seared Diver Scallops, Butternut Squash Puree, and Sauteed Swiss Chard

So as mid-February approaches most people are either giving up on their New Year's resolutions or finally getting around to them.  Well here is a meal that surely can't hurt and will definitely impress (to offset that embarrassing belly fat that is still inexplicably hanging around).  Check out the rest of the pics and some basic instructions after the jump.

So rule number uno when cooking scallops in this fashion: buy the good ones.  Good ones are labeled as "Diver" or "Day Boat" (a.k.a. "dry") and are packed as is, after they're harvested off the ocean floor by Joe SCUBA.  Other scallops, plainly known as "Wet," are soaked in a phosphate substance for preservative and price injecting effects.  Wet scallops bathe in that milky white substance that you see prominently displayed at most supermarkets.

Wet-packed scallops (left), dry-packed scallops (right).
wet scallops vs. dry scallops
Photo Credit

You see, the when your fish guy goes to measure your wet scallops, he doesn't give you a discount for the moisture that your Casper shaded friends have absorbed for however long they've been hanging out in that disturbing tub of preservatives.  So you're paying top dollar for preservatives.  Not only are you losing out on your buck, but you're scallops will shrink during cooking as the moisture evaporates.  So those big boys on the left (above) will end up smaller than the guys in the right.  This added moisture also releases into the pan and makes it tough to get a good sear that everyone loves, and thus your texture is compromised.

So now that you've bought some dry scallops, let's give you the basic outlines of this recipe.

Even though you bought "dry" scallops, these suckers came from the ocean, so they're going to have some water in them.  Drain them for 10-20 minutes then toss them on a paper towel for another 10 minutes.  Drop the scallops in a medium hot pan for a couple minutes on each side after seasoning with just a bit of salt and pepper.

The Filet Mignon of the Sea - I could have dried them out a bit more during prep
For the puree, I just boiled the crap out of some butternut squash and threw that in the food processor with some fresh chopped garlic, salt, and pepper.  You'll probably need a little liquid to smooth it all out.  I used coconut milk (go to the foreign food aisle and find the Goya section - it shouldn't be more than $1.19 a can).

The Swiss chard was just sauteed in some coconut oil until tender but with a slight bite left to it.

Gratuitous closeup, nomnom

So there you have it.  A healthy, delicious meal that will be an absolute crowd pleaser.

Next up - meals from my trip to Costa Rica!  Stay tuned.

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