It was for a good cause, I swear. My recipe is here, at food52.
My friends at Boston’s Mercato del Mare got some gorgeous Nantucket Bay Scallops in yesterday morning, and you can bet I hightailed it over there on my lunch break to snag some. They’re creamy and sweet and need little adornment, and my favorite preparation takes just minutes to prepare.
You can get my slightly updated recipe over at food52.
In the afterglow of what was one darned fine bowl of noodles, I’m wondering: why did it take me so long to discover the wonders of fish sauce? I mean, honestly, I’m thinking of all sorts of dishes past that could have benefited from a hit of that fabulous savory nectar, and I’m trying very hard not to sneak spoonfuls of it straight from the bottle.
Mike and I enjoy all sorts of Asian cuisines, but again, they are a bit outside our comfort zone for cooking at home, so we haven’t done so often. Now I’m thinking that’s just crazy, and I’m looking forward to doing some research and experimenting more.
These brothy noodles weren’t just about the fish sauce, though – they were about beautiful Maine shrimp (yes, we’re still on that kick), the shells used for stock and the tender flesh just cooked through before serving; they were also about sweet local carrots, peppery hydroponic watercress, and bright spring onions, all of which added a pop of color and clean bursts of flavor to the dish.
Shelling the tiny shrimp was really the most complicated part of this dish, and it wasn’t difficult at all. The rest came together quickly and easily, and the result was so good, there’s no way I won’t make this again. Here’s what I did (and I actually measured, so you even get something resembling a recipe):
Brothy shrimp noodles
A glug of olive oil
1-2 large-ish spring onions, bulbs and green tops sliced and separated
1 long, thin dried chile pepper, lightly crumbled
1 lb. Maine shrimp, peeled, shells reserved
6 cups water
1 package thin cellophane noodles, plus water for soaking
2 tablespoons fish sauce (or more to taste)
Juice of one lime (or more to taste)
1-2 medium carrots, finely shredded or grated
1-2 handfuls of watercress
Asian chile sauce (like Sriracha) for serving
In a large pot, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the sliced spring onion bulb and the chile pepper and cook until fragrant. Add the shrimp shells, tossing to coat with the oil, and cook 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the water, cover the pot, reduce heat to low and cook 20 minutes or so, then pour through a cheesecloth-lined strainer, pressing down with a ladle to extract all of the liquid from the shells. Discard the solids and return the stock to the pot (wipe out any remaining solids from the pot first). Add fish sauce and lime, stirring through, cover and bring to a low boil.
In a kettle or separate pot, bring several cups of water to a boil, and then pour them over the cellophane noodles in a bowl. Let noodles soak for 10 minutes, then drain noodles and set aside. To serve, place some of the noodles in deep bowls; scatter the sliced green tops of the spring onions over, as well as some of the grated carrot. Place some of the shrimp on top, and then carefully ladle the hot stock into the bowls, gently stirring through – the shrimp will cook in a minute or two just from the heat of the stock. Top with watercress and serve, passing chile sauce, additional fish sauce and lime juice at the table to adjust seasoning to taste.
I’m not sure but I think the excessive heat we’ve had the last two days has impaired my ability to successfully put a meal together. I didn’t even attempt it on Monday night (we ordered a pizza), but since Mike had installed the air conditioner, I figured I’d give it a shot last night. After all, we had a package of Bomster Scallops thawed in the fridge, and I was anxious to see what the fuss is all about. I figured they’d be a good option for a quick dinner anyway, as scallops really take just minutes to cook, and they wouldn’t heat up the kitchen too much.
I decided rather than searing the scallops, I’d give them a brief soak in buttermilk before coating them in cornmeal. The first problem I encountered is that our buttermilk had frozen in the back of the fridge (as did our crème fraiche, which is why the lemon-savory cream I planned to serve with the scallops didn’t materialize – strike two).
I pressed forward, figuring the buttermilk slush would re-liquefy soon enough (it did). But then I used the wrong pan. Now, you all know how much I love our cast iron skillet, and I use it for darn near everything, but the thing just got too nuclear hot for these scallops – my first batch stuck to the pan, leaving charred cornmeal in the bottom, the scallops still raw.
I quickly grabbed our nonstick pan and got that heating for the next batch, and it worked better, though the crust itself was pretty unsuccessful – the scallops gave off so much liquid after I pulled them out of the pan that the crust was soggy by the time I plated. They were tasty, but not at all what I had intended.
I was more successful with the accompaniments – black rice cooked with shallot and lots of fresh summer savory (already chopped for the lemon-savory cream that was not to be), and blanched shaved asparagus, all dressed with a healthy squeeze of lemon juice. It was light and fresh tasting, not to mention lovely to look at, and I’ll likely revisit the combination in the future. I’m betting it would be great with a poached egg on top.
I wouldn’t call this meal a complete disaster, but it was disappointing. The scallops themselves were, as advertised, really delicious, and I look forward to picking up more at the farmers’ market this weekend and giving them another go next week. But I’ll skip the cornmeal crust.
This is all Amy‘s fault.
From the moment I laid eyes on this, I knew I had to try this recipe. How could I not? See, my favorite food in the world next to cheese has got to be potatoes in any form, and when I saw those crisp, delicious looking beauties, I developed a craving for fries that just would not go away. My first thought was to make steak frites, but since we’ve been going so heavy on the meat lately, I decided on moules frites as a lighter option.
I followed the recipe for the fries pretty closely, substituting olive oil for canola because we didn’t have any on hand, and dividing the potatoes over two half-sheet pans. One pan (the one with more wear on it) turned out perfectly crisp, beautiful fries and the other… well, not so much. Those fries stuck to the bottom of the pan, to the sides of the pan, to each other, to anything they could stick to. They were pretty mangled and fugly after I finally turned them all, but I pressed on.
I ended up leaving the fries in the oven for an extra 10 minutes (for a total cooking time of one hour), and when I pulled them out, I had one tray of perfect specimens, and a second tray of perfectly cooked fries that were not going to win any beauty contests, but were just as tasty as their more attractive brethren.
The garlicky topping, I must say, is genius. If you make these fries, do not skip that step. And if you like fries, do try this recipe, because even though my go at them wasn’t all smooth sailing, they were worth the frustration, and I definitely plan to make them again and again.
November is the season for Nantucket Bay scallops, and when I was putting together my last grocery order, I made sure to snatch some up. These sweet little gems are about midway between a regular bay scallop and a sea scallop in size, and they’re perfect for simple, clean-flavored preparations like this pasta dish. My ex-husband used to make something similar (a recipe ganked from some food magazine I’ve long forgotten), and I’ve updated it by adding two of my favorite flavor boosters – chile flakes and fresh lemon zest. This dish is bright and tasty, comes together in literally minutes, and allows the delicious flavor of the scallops to shine.
Cappellini with Nantucket Bay Scallops
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1/2 cup dry white wine
Red chile flakes to taste
1/2 lb. Nantucket Bay scallops (or sea scallops, halved or quartered if large)
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus more for garnish
3/4 lb. cappellini (angel hair) pasta
Get a large pot of salted water boiling for the pasta.
Warm olive oil in a wide skillet and add garlic cloves and salt. Cook over medium heat until the garlic is fragrant and beginning to turn golden. Add the wine and chile flakes and let cook for a moment before adding the scallops. Season them with a bit more salt and continue cooking for about 3-4 minutes, until the scallops are just cooked through.
Add the cappellini to the boiling pasta water and cook about 3 minutes. Drain and place into a warmed serving bowl.
Stir the 1/4 cup of parsley into the scallops and remove them from the heat. Pour the scallops and sauce over the pasta and toss gently. Divide between bowls or plates and top each serving with additional chopped parsley, grated lemon zest, and a sprinkling of toasted breadcrumbs.
We usually have wine with dinner, and when I’m planning out the pairings, the food usually comes first. But as I was putting together a grocery order last week and browsing the bottles available through Best Cellars, I was surprised to see a white wine listed among their “Big” selections. The bottle in question was a 2004 Oriel “Dylan” Russian River Valley Chardonnay, and while I’m not usually a fan of big Chardonnays, and the bottle was a bit more spendy than we usually go for weeknight dinners, the description of the wine had me intrigued. I added it to our cart and began thinking about building a meal around it.
I like pairing scallops with Chardonnay, so I decided on that as my protein – simply seared, with a little vermouth-enriched brown butter. The side was a bit more challenging; since scallops are so mild, I tend to match them with something more aggressively flavored or seasoned, but I didn’t want to make anything overpowering. As luck or serendipity would have it, I happened upon a few recipes for celery root remoulade over the weekend, and decided to go with a variation on that theme. I added fennel and apple to the mix, and ended up with a wonderful combination of crunchy, creamy, tart, sweet and tangy – a great foil for both the scallops and our delicious bottle of wine.
Celeriac, Fennel and Apple Remoulade
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Juice of one lemon
1 teaspoon extra-hot Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
4 oz. crème fraiche
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
1 not-too-tart green apple
1 small bulb fennel
1 small celery root (celeriac)
Place kosher salt in a bowl, add lemon juice and whisk until salt is dissolved. Add mustard, mayo, crème fraiche and tarragon, and whisk again until well combined.
Core the apple, slice into matchsticks and add to dressing. Core the fennel bulb and slice as thinly as possible. Peel celery root and slice into matchsticks. Blanch the fennel and celery root briefly in unsalted water. Remove the vegetables using a spider or slotted spoon and shock them in an ice bath. Drain them well, pat dry, and add to the dressing. Toss until the mixture is well-combined, cover, and chill before serving.
As I feared might happen, I caught Mike’s cold. It hit me hard on the commute home yesterday, and by the time I got home I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get it together to make dinner. But we had clams, fresh beautiful local littlenecks, and they wouldn’t keep, so when Mike got home we worked on dinner together.
This is my adaptation of a recipe I found on epicurious.com. We both love the combination of pork and clams, and I am always looking for new ways to prepare them together. This recipe was a breeze to put together, used just one pot, and had us both happily slurping up every last bit of the savory broth from our bowls.
Clams with Hot Italian Sausage and Fennel
(adapted from a recipe in Cooking Light via epicurious.com)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chopped fennel fronds
1/2 pound hot Italian sausage, removed from casings and crumbled
2 teaspoons crushed fennel seeds
1 tablespoon tomato paste
8 oz. white wine
2 dozen small clams (we used littlenecks, but you can substitute Manilas or other small clams)
Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot with a lid. Add the sliced fennel, salt, sausage and fennel seeds and sauté until sausage is brown and fennel is tender, about 10 minutes. Make a hot spot and add the tomato paste, allowing to cook for a couple of minutes before stirring it through. Add the wine and bring to boil. Add the clams and half of the fennel fronds, cover the pot and cook over medium heat until the clams open, about 5-10 minutes. Spoon into deep bowls, discarding any unopened clams, and sprinkle additional fennel fronds on top. Serve with toasted crusty bread to soak up the broth.
I’m a little frantic these days. My pre-party panic is in full effect, and I’m beginning to do prep for several party dishes when I get home from work in the evenings in addition to getting dinner on the table. Last night was a pretty heavy prep night, as I worked on about six and a half pounds of duck breasts for the little pulled duck sandwiches I’m serving Saturday. Since the oven was on anyway, I figured I’d take advantage of that and packet cook some scallops.
I’m a big fan of packet cooking. It’s quick, it’s easy, and it makes for minimal cleanup – important considerations when you’re pressed for time and juggling other things. For these scallop packets, I set two squares of foil next to each other on a baking sheet, and mounded a combination of fresh corn, halved heirloom cherry tomatoes and sliced scallions on the center of each. I placed five plump little sea scallops on top of the veggies, seasoned them with kosher salt, and drizzled about a tablespoon of white vermouth and a little olive oil over each before sealing them up. The sealed packets went into a 450 degree oven for 12 minutes and when they were done, I placed each one into a shallow bowl to catch any stray juices, opened them up and sprinkled a bit of shredded basil on top. This meal couldn’t have been simpler, and it was bursting with late-summer goodness.