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Chef's Corner: Scallops Casa Sena



Great large "dry" (meaning no additives) scallops are a treat. Alexander's often has local diver scallops and this is a wonderful way to use them. It is our adaptation of a recipe from Casa Sena Restaurant in Santa Fe, New Mexico.


Lemon-pepper linguine can be purchased, but if you can't find it, also look for pepper linguine, lemon linguine, or just plain linguine. Or make your own.


We do this for 2 people. It's a lot. With purchased pasta this restaurant quality meal can be made in minutes.


 

Sea Scallops with Lemon-Pepper Linguine

  • 2 cups sweet and ripe cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters or even smaller if they are large

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

  • 5 thinly sliced scallions, white and green parts

  • A few drops nam pla (fish sauce) or even Worcestershire sauce, optional

  • 1 jalapeno or 2 serrano peppers, finely chopped (or more or less to taste)

  • 1/4 cup basil leaves, julliened (approximate amount)

  • 1 clove garlic, crushed or minced

  • 10 ounces dry lemon-pepper pasta, linguine preferred but not essential (or 15 ounces fresh; purchased or homemade)

  • 1 pound large "dry" scallops (12 to 15 count per pound)

  • If frying, oil, butter or a mixture of both

  • Salt and pepper

  • Handful toasted pine nuts

  • Lemon juice

(Anybody making their own pasta will likely have their own favorite recipe. We find that 2 tsp. finely ground pepper to 1 1/2 cups flour -- or 1/2 cup semolina plus 1 cup flour -- and juice and zest of 1/2 lemon is about right for this recipe. We use a single egg. Purists will use more.)


Mix the olive oil, tomatoes, scallions, fish sauce (if using), pepper(s), garlic and 1/2 of the basil in a large bowl. We like to let it sit a bit to mingle the flavors.


Cook the pasta in boiling water until al dente, drain and put it in the bowl with the olive oil and other ingredients. Mix thoroughly. Divide onto plates for serving.


Dry the scallops with a paper towel, then season with salt and pepper. Grill or fry them until cooked to your liking.


TIP: You never want to overcook scallops but many people want then to have a nice dark brown crust. There are various suggestions on how and when to turn them over, but we have found that the perfect solution is to, essentially, only cook them on one side. If frying, use a goodly amount of oil and/or butter and get it really hot (pre-heating the pan can be useful). Quickly put the scallops in the pan. Fry until just under done. Quickly turn them over, just to "kiss" them with the heat for a second. Immediately remove from the pan. You can throw away any remaining cooking fat, but, if you are so inclined, you could also pour it on top of the plated scallops.


SHOWOFF: Sometimes we will throw in a splash of brandy or cognac and light it off to flame the scallops. This is wholly optional (and should not be attempted without proper precautions). But it will impress your friends if they are standing around watching.




Place the scallops on the pasta. Top with the remaining basil, pine nuts and some lemon juice and serve.

WINE SUGGESTION: We suggest a rich chardonnay.

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