Sea scallops and teal toes
It's like living in New Orleans without the benefits. No Creole cottages, no charming trolley line, no Sazerac cocktails with friends under live oaks — just crazy hot and humid weather all the time. This week's temperatures were record worthy, and I was determined not to turn on the oven Friday night. No way, no how. I couldn't raise the indoor temperature a single notch.
I'd invited my friend Beth to dinner that evening, so an acceptable cold or room temperature meal was required. Gorgeous scallops arrived in my CSF pick up Thursday (this is new, the community supported fishery thing), and I couldn't let them sit in the refrigerator while we ate something else. My mind drifted back a good 14 years, to a kitchen in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and a menu that at one point included a seared scallop entree. It was served with steamed couscous and a winter green salad, and dressed with a tangy tangerine vinaigrette. Not right for this meal, but a good jumping off point.
I soaked a few bamboo skewers in water before heading to work and considered my menu throughout the day. A quick market run on the way home yielded an orange, a couple of limes, and large bunch of fresh cilantro. I was ready for supper.
My scallop dish was loosely based on the aforementioned menu item. Grilled scallops yes, citrus yes, couscous yes. From there, it's a departure. My dish was served cold, I was too time-strapped to steam the couscous (if you can, steam it at least 3 times instead of going the 5-minute boiling water route as suggested on most boxes)*, and I strayed into pseudo-ceviche category with jalapeno, citrus juice, and red onion. Diced cucumber provided cool crunch, the pepper added a bit of heat, and the citrus gave a refreshing tang. Everything was served on a bed of leafy greens tossed with citrus vinaigrette.
After a lovely meal accompanied by great conversation (food always tastes better in good company) I walked Beth to her car and asked about her toenails, nails that caught my eye early in the evening — the shiny blue-green polish stood out. My query was exactly what was intended: she produced a business card for www.tealtoes.org, an organization devoted to raising ovarian cancer awareness. My red polish is off, I have a small stack of tealtoes business cards in my possession, and I look forward to finding the perfect blue-green for my own toenails over the weekend.
* Note: Paula Wolfert's brilliant, aptly titled cookbook Couscous and Other Good Food from Morocco explains how to steam couscous. I'll try to cover it in a future post, but this book is worth purchasing. Wolfert's experience with Moroccan cuisine is second to none, her writing is clear and concise, and she'll introduce you to a world of possibly unfamiliar (and delicious) flavors.
Grilled Scallops with Citrus and Cilantro
3/4 pound fresh sea scallops, ligament removed from the side if attached
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
1 Valencia orange, pith removed and cut into segments
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 small red onion, finely diced
1 small cucumber, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
3-4 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped
Prepare your grill for high, direct grilling. Be certain the grates are well-cleaned and well-oiled to avoid sticking.
Toss the scallops in a bowl with olive oil, salt and pepper. Thread them onto metal skewers or bamboo skewers that have soaked at least 30 minutes in water. Place the skewered scallops onto the hot grill and cook through, turning once. This will take about 5 minutes. Allow them to cool, then cut in half or quarters, depending on size.
Removed the peel and white pith from the orange. Hold it over a bowl to collect juice while you remove the segments from between the membranes with a paring knife. Cut the orange segments in half. (You can use the orange juice to make citrus vinaigrette if serving with greens).
Place the orange segments and scallops in a bowl. Add the lime and lemon juice, red onion, cucumber and jalapeno. Toss to combine and chill, covered, for 1-2 hours in the refrigerator. Add freshly chopped cilantro just before serving. Check seasoning, adding additional citrus juice, salt and pepper as necessary.