Not going to lie, I halfassed this one.
Truth? I got cocky. I had made scallops a week or so prior, and they were amazing. A completely made up recipe, that went right, and in my mind I was a master. It was even my very first time ever making scallops! Of course I was proud.
So in an effort to spark some creativity with the rest of the scallops I had, found this: Seared Scallops with Fennel and Cherry Tomatoes. Seemed simple enough, and with minimal ingredients, I was sold for a quick weeknight dinner.
The recipe called for more than double the scallops I had, but mine were quite large, and I figured worst case scenario I would have some extra sautéed fennel.
Ingredients prepared, and I was ready to cook the first side of my scallops. As I had done with the last recipe, I used the stopwatch on my phone, to be sure not to leave them on for more than 3 minutes. While I got the actual timing right, I think I must have had the heat on too high. The scallops had stuck to the pan, and they were practically cooked all the way through.
Slicing the fennel reminds me of how badly I want a mandolin. How great would it be to choose a thickness you desire, and to have evenly sliced veggies? Dreams. Well, I think my slicing was a bit sloppy, because even after the fennel and tomatoes were sautéing for quite a while, many pieces were a little crunchy. But, I got lazy, and was extra hungry, so I decided it was time to eat rather than to let it all cook down evenly.
Nevertheless, this recipe offered a great flavor combination, and a fun new use for fennel. (I am of the mindset If I’ve never cooked it before, roast it.) So I learned something new, and experienced the truth about how finicky scallops can be. Takeaway: Don’t attempt a recipe that requires attention to detail and patience when you are starving.
Seared Scallops with Fennel and Cherry Tomatoes
3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons olive oil
16 sea scallops (about 1 1/2 pounds), patted dry
kosher salt and black pepper
1 bulb fennel, thinly sliced, plus 2 tablespoons fronds
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 8ounce bottle clam juice
1⁄2 cup dry white wine
1 pint grape tomatoes
8 slices baguette, toasted
1 clove garlic, peeled
1. Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over mediumhigh heat. Season the scallops with 1⁄4 teaspoon each salt and pepper and cook on one side until just browned, 2 to 3 minutes; transfer to a plate.
2. Add the fennel, onion, 1⁄2 teaspoon salt, and 1⁄4 teaspoon pepper to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are just tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the clam juice, wine, and tomatoes and cook until the liquid begins to thicken, 6 to 8 minutes more. Add the scallops, brownedside up, and cook until cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes more.
3. Meanwhile, rub the baguette slices with the garlic and, dividing evenly, drizzle with the remaining 2 teaspoons of oil. Sprinkle the scallops, vegetables, and cooking liquid with the fennel fronds and serve with the baguette slices.