Pan Seared Scallops with a Caribbean Flare

Last weekend I was one of the four photographers fortunate to be hired to document the annual event “Taste of Atlanta”. First up on the Kitchen Stadium were three Culinary Students from South Forsyth County School, Cumming Georgia.

L-R, Darian Grooms, Marin Wijma, Mia Kosko

Every year, 20 finalist (schools) from across America come together for a day long, one hour, hot food, iron chef like cookoff. South Forsyth placed 2nd in the Nation this past March losing by, get this… a speck of pepper on the plate.
Observing them work on this kitchen stage was quite rewarding for me. I love to see young adults perform with such discipline. Imagine at 17 years old, producing a meal in front of Master Chefs. It reminded me of a television program I watched about becoming a “Master Chef”. The grueling task each chef had to perform just to receive the title “Master”. I know why I’m just a home chef…no pressure.

I came home from that weekend of photographing and observing many chefs demonstrate for the patrons of Taste of Atlanta and decided I had to try the Pan Seared Scallops with a Caribbean Flare.

mise en place

Most of the ingredients can be prepared in advance to save time when ready to cook. The dry ingredients can be combined well ahead and saved in a container. The onion, corn, celery Jalapeño, Chives and Cilantro can be cut up and placed in containers or storage bags. This leaves the garlic and bacon (not included above) to prepare just before.

Season the Sea Scallop

Dip the Sea Scallop into the Dry Mixture and then Sear in a hot pan on each side for three to four minutes.

The following recipe is a derivation of the dish demonstrated by the Culinary Students at Taste of Atlanta.
For two people, I buy eight Sea Scallops

Wet Ingredients
Dry White Wine

Dry Ingredients
1 tsp Brown Sugar
1/4 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1 Tbls Dry Mustard
1/2 tsp Onion Powder
3/4 tsp Garlic Powder
1/8 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1/4 tsp All-Purpose Flour

Combine these ingredients in a bowl. Rinse the scallops and pat dry. Coat each side of the scallops in the spicey mixture. Set aside.

Prepare the Corn Medley

Dice two slices Hickory Smoked Bacon
Dice one small yellow onion
Corn from two ears. (Alternative) One Medium Size Can of Sweet Corn
Dice one stalk of celery
Peas from Five Pea Pods
Chop 1/2 of Jalapeño – seeds removed.
One Clove minced Garlic
Two oz. of Chicken Stock. ( I use Knorr Brand Concentrate and dissolve one container with a cup of water)
One Tbls. chopped Chives
Two Tbls. Chopped Cilantro
One Tbls. Butter
Salt and Pepper to Taste

In a pan, cook diced bacon. When browned, remove bacon bits from pan and place on paper towel to drain. Pour half of rendered bacon drippings into a hot sauté pan and add the onion, celery and corn. While the corn medley cooks for a few minutes, begin to Sear the Scallops in the same pan as the bacon was cooked in. (Tip: In order to Sear, the pan must be hot. Searing keeps flavor and juices within the meat). Sear three to four minutes on each side of scallop.
Return to the corn medley and add the peas, jalapeño and garlic. Cook for one more minute then add the Chicken Stock and cook for another minute. Remove from heat and add the chives, cilantro and butter.

Return to the Scallops and turn them over to sear the other side. When scallops are done. Remove from pan to a plate. Pickup pan from the stove and slowly pour 1/4 cup of that wine I mentioned above into the pan. Now place back on the stove and scrap all the good nurdles off the bottom of the pan and allow liquid to reduce. At this point you could add just a slice of butter to help congeal.

Now for plating. Spoon the liquid wine mixture on to a plate. Place a spoonful of Corn Medley over this and top with a scallop or two. Then slowly walk to your table and place the plate down and sit and proceed to savor the flavor.

I complimented this dish with a new wine I came across. The wine aged in an Unoaked barrel. It was really quite good.

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About Pam Rauber

Photographer, Writer, Home Chef.
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