Friday, April 8, 2011

Simple and elegant: Scallops with beurre blanc safrané

If you’ve tried my bouillabaisse recipe posted a few months back, you know my thoughts on Saffron. What a sexy spice! It’s got such a subtle taste yet an ever so present flavor. Simply added to rice, it turns an ordinary grain into something attractive and delicious. Did you know that saffron is the world’s most expensive spice by weight? Good thing you only need a pinch to give a great kick to your dish! I like it so much I love to add it to my recipes once in a while.

Scallops are a true special treat. In this house, if we eat them during the week, it feels like it’s the weekend; if we eat them during the weekend, it feels like we’re celebrating a special occasion. The best part of making scallops is that they take about 3 minutes to cook. Come on, who doesn’t have 3 minutes to spare to make a delightful diner? On top of it, you can buy good quality scallops frozen (oh yeah, you read me right!), which means you can keep them in the freezer and pop them out of there whenever you feel like it. I like to keep a bag around just in case I get an urge or if someone special comes over for dinner at the last minute.

So I got an urge for scallops… which I decided to pair to a saffron beurre blanc. Beurre blanc literally means white butter. It’s a simple and elegant recipe; a pure delight. Treat yourself during the week or invite friends over on the weekend, and serve them this. What you’ll need to go with it is a good side dish (I used asparagus) and rice (jasmine would be my pick) and you’re all set. Ok, it’s butter and it’s not the healthiest thing in the world. But you don’t eat this everyday. Once in a while, you’re aloud to splurge. The French really know this and a beurre blanc is great proof of it.  

Makes 4 servings
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 pinch of saffron
3 tbsp white vinegar
4 tbsp dry white wine (or Vermouth)
2 tbsp cold water
210 ml (14 tbsp) half salted butter, very cold, cut in dices
1 tsp lemon juice
Salt and white pepper
12 big scallops

Over high heat in a small saucepan, mix the shallots, vinegar, wine and saffron, and bring to a boil.

Lower the heat and let simmer for about 2 minutes (until there’s about 1 tbsp of liquid left).

Add the water and incorporate the butter, piece by piece, while whisking until the mixture is completely emulsified. Add salt, white pepper and lemon juice.

In a skillet, cook your scallops over high heat in a bit of olive oil. 2 minutes max on each side is enough!

Variations: It’s easy to make variations on a beurre blanc simply by changing the wine or vinegar type and taking out the saffron.

Red butter: change de white wine for 6 tbsp of good red wine and the white vinegar with 1 tbsp of red wine vinegar.

White butter with herbs: Add 1 tbsp of chopped fresh herbs. Rosemary would be added in the first step. Basil or Tarragon at the end. 

Note: Beurre blanc is great with any grilled fish or seafood. If you don’t like scallops, try it with something else. 

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