Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Fried, Seared, Delicious- I'm Yours!

Capesante Infusi di Limoni, con Finnochio e Riso Misto
Lime-Infused Scallops with Fennel & Mixed Rice

So you think there's something fishy going on because I fried some scallops, do you? Well- not really! I am not much of a fish fan, as you may know by now, having only 2-3 real favorites... but I do love shrimp, octopus and squid... and indeed scallops as well! They are not so readily available in German supermarkets, unless you have a realatively high-end speciality store- not even in frozen form. But I happened to be walking past the fishmongers on my way home this evening, and there they were, smiling at me in the display cabinet. They were also of the pale brown variety, which I have been assured by colleagues of much higher expertise than I, are of a superior quality to the snowy-white ones. So scallops it was for supper! And what a little treat I turned them into!

With just a few simple ingredients, I managed to make a very light, tasty and you guessed it- quick meal... which was more than fine by me at 8pm! Oh and I am somehow pretty sure that you approve of it too...

First of all, I prepared a little marinade for the scallops, out of lime juice and sesame oil, with a half-teaspoon of powdered Kefir lime leaves. You can find this at most Asian supermarkets-and yes, they are the wonderfully aromatic Thai lemon leaves that you may know from Tom Kha Gai Soup or most Thai curries. I poured the marinade over the scallops and let them soak up the flavors for 15-20 minutes, which was the time it took to prepare the other ingredients and steam the rice. Cooking is all about timing!

Whilst the rice was steaming away, I popped the fennel into my frying pan with a little olive oil, a slice or two of garlic and fried it at a moderate heat for 2-3 minutes from either side. Once it began to look translucent, I sprinkled it with salt, pepper and a little sugar and continued to fry it until the sugar began to caramelize and turn slightly brown. At this point, I also added a couple of very thinly sliced red pepper, so that it would also slightly get toasted and caramelized.

And then it was time to get this meal pulled together! I heated up another small non-stick frying pan- nice and hot, and placed my marinated scallops straight onto it- there was enough oil in the marinade that it wouldn't stick. And I let them sit there for a good minute or two- resisting the temptation to mess around with them... which is a hard thing to do! But it is worth it! After 2 minutes or so, I carefully flipped them over and gave them the same amount of time from the other side. They didn't stick at all, but the juice began to turn sticky and caramelize a little... which was a good thing!

I began serving everything up- the rice, pressed into a decorative little tower, then the fennel slices, and then on top went the scallops. For a quick dressing/sauce, I added a little sweet Thai chili sauce to the pan and poured the marinade in there with it. I gave it a splash of Sambuca, cranked up the heat and brought it to a boil. It soon began to thicken and to smell incredible, and I drizzled a little of this over the scallops, fennel and rice and got ready to enjoy a wonderful little meal! The finishing touch was a little bit of the fennel greens as a garnish, some Fleur de Sel to season and a squeeze of lime juice to kick-start things into action... and all that was left to do was to say Bon Apetit and to enjoy!

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