Saturday, 29 June 2013

Popeye in Pink

Capesante Scottate su Couscous & Spinaci Amaranto
Pan-Seared Scallops on Amaranth Couscous

I absolutely love amaranth-spinach- just the look of those beautiful red and green leaves is enough to get me all excited and wanting to cook! Sadly, it is not the kind of green that we see on offer all that often and it isn't something that is easy to find... unless you visit the Frankfurt Kleinmarkthalle and stop by Mrs. Wong's that is!

I saw it today and it had to be- so with a small carrier-bags worth of the multi-colored leaves already secured, I picked up a few other items and made my way slowly back through town. And crazily enough stopped at the fishmonger's on the way home and picked up these delicious scallops- where I am anything but a fish fan! Ah, but these are not fish, and seared and spiced they are rather nice! So I picked them up too and hurried home to my kitchen! it was time to have some fun! Plus... I was hungry!

This is what the leaves look like when they are raw- and the thing about the flavor of them, is that they are slightly stronger-tasting and have a bit more of a nutty taste to them... pretty delicious!

I of course removed the leaves from the stalks, so that it would cook nicely and evenly- otherwise the leaves would have shriveled away to nothing by the time they were done... but I did nibble on one of the stalks before discarding the rest. And then did not discard the rest! Incredibly, the stalks have a wonderful, mild, fresh flavor, similar to the taste of fresh green peas! Who knew? Well, no- not I! So, whatever you do- don't just throw them away without at least trying them! 

I prepared the amaranth spinach by washing and letting it drip dry, whilst in the meantime heating up a pat of clarified butter and quickly frying just a little finely grated garlic and ginger. The spinach went in with a hiss and I immediately tossed it around, adding a sprinkle of salt and pepper and then once it has all coated and beginning to wilt down, I grated it generously with nutmeg and tossed it over and over. After 4-5 minutes at the most, the spinach was done, filled with flavor and so I turned off the heat and got busy with the scallops. 

For the scallops, I also got a pat of clarified butter sizzling, (it is so much better for frying with as it will not smoke, burn or get bitter at high temperatures) and added the scallops with a slice of ginger and a piece of garlic again- this time in a larger size so that I could perfume the food but then remove them so they would neither burn nor look unsightly in the dish.

I fried the scallops at a very high heat for 1-2 minutes from each side, then sprinkled them with crushed peppers, sea salt and a very light dusting of Ras el Hanout powder... VERY lightly! I then upped the heat and gave them a further 1-2 minutes to scorch from each side, then took them off the stove, so that residual heat would cook them through and through without drying them out. I added a squeeze of fresh lime juice and tiny drop os sesame oil- less is more- but that little bit makes a big difference!

Whilst the scallops were finishing, I added a couple of cupfuls of plain, cooked couscous to the amaranth spinach and returned it to the heat, just to bring things back to temperature and to adjust the seasoning. I added a sprinkle of finely sliced lemon zest for a final blast of flavor and as a lovely garnish- and an ass-kicking dinner was served!

Looks pretty as a picture, doesn't it? Glad you think so! Want to try it some time? Glad you agree with that idea too! Enjoy!

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