Sweet Maine sea scallops get a tangy boost with apple cider and apple cider vinegar.
We bid summer adieu this year with a quick trip to the Maine coast. With temperatures in the 80s, the season held on until the last moment! We were delighted with beautiful red sunrises and sunsets, blue skies, and the expected indulgence in New England seafood. We feasted on lobster (everything from boiled to mac-and-cheese and grilled cheese), oysters, clams, and fabulous Maine peekytoe crab.
As much as I love eating out when on a trip, by the time I get home I’m itching to get back in the kitchen. Although I thought I’d eaten my fill of seafood for a few days, I found myself at the fish market and cast my eye on some beautiful Maine coast sea scallops, at a price that didn’t make be cry. I couldn’t resist, especially since I knew this would be not only special, but a quick Sunday dinner.
This dish does come together quickly. Probably the most time-consuming part of the process is peeling and dicing the apple!
Look for “dry” sea scallops always. If it doesn’t say so, ask the fish monger. If you are in a grocery store and the clerk doesn’t know, pass them by and cook something else as more often these scallops are packed in a liquid with a preservative. This adds weight to the product, a chemical to the product, and the flavor of the scallop ends up in the liquid and not the scallop itself. The extra liquid the scallop absorbs also makes it extremely difficult to get a sear on the scallop. If you’ve had scallops you couldn’t brown and that tasted like stale water, this is probably what they sold you, and probably for a high price.
The apples add a sweetness to the already sweet scallops. I used a Crispin, but Jonathan or Granny Smith would work well too. The cider adds tartness and cider vinegar adds the sour tang.
The mustard in this sauce is quite salty, so use a light hand when seasoning and taste. Don’t add any salt until after you reduce the cider.
Sea Scallops with Sweet and Sour Apple Cider Sauce
1 lb. dry sea scallops
Flour for dusting
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 large shallot, minced
1 firm apple, fine dice
1 cup fresh pressed apple cider
2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp. grainy mustard
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. heavy cream or coconut cream, optional
Prep the scallops by removing the abductor muscle and patting dry. Dust with flour and set aside.
In a sturdy sauté pan, heat olive oil to a shimmer over medium high heat. Add the scallops, pressing down each. Don’t crowd the pan, you may need to cook them in two batches.
Check after two minutes, they should be ready to turn if browned. Cook an addition two or three minutes on the second side, depending on the size of the scallops, until the second side in brown and releases from the pan easily. Set them all aside, tent with foil, and keep warm.
In the same pan, add a bit more olive oil and the shallot. Cook for a minute or so, and add the apple, and a few grinds of pepper, mixing them together well.
Add the cider, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the liquid reduces.
Add the vinegar and the mustard and mix well with a whisk.
Remove from the heat and add the butter a little at a time, whisking all the while, to thicken the sauce. Taste and correct the seasoning.
If you want it creamier, add a bit of heavy cream or coconut cream and mix well.
Return the scallops to the pan and gently coat with the sauce. Plate.
If you are not tired from returning from a jaunt to the coast, chop up some parsley and garnish.
Red Morning Light
Red morning light
in wet sand,
no edge between
the sea and land;
the place, low tide,
Red morning light.
A storm awaits.
Sailors take care
but I continue.
to a sculpture of rocks,
a curve in the shore.
There’ll be time
To find shelter,
though I’ve walked
First, sand dollars,
beach glass, a perfect shell.
a thousand days
and frozen time,
returns the moment,
and waves move in.
They always do.
Red morning light.
Joy and sorrow
Here, I feel neither,
both. ~ Dorothy Grover-Read
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