I’ve found that a little spicy sausage mixed into savory dishes can make the difference between good and oh my god, delicious. It can also be a go-to if your ingredients are too soft or not quite up to par.
Take this dish: pan-fried scallops with crispy chorizo, a skillet recipe from The seafood shack by Kirsty Scobie and Fenella Renwick. They own a food truck in Ullapool, a small fishing village on the northwest coast of Scotland with a long history of fishing.
Their cookbook offers around 80 recipes for dishes served at the restaurant, where the two friends cook the freshest catch of the day.
About these bivalves, they wrote, “Our scallop fisherman will randomly appear on any given day and say, ‘I’ve got scallops for you,’ and in an hour they’ll be on the menu.”
Sounds dreamy, doesn’t it?
If I had scallops this fresh, I would probably be so excited that I would lightly sear them in a little butter, sprinkle them with salt and pepper, and dig in. Unfortunately, I – and I’ll bet you – generally cook with less freshly caught peaches. This is where chorizo comes in.
This simple preparation calls for large scallops seared in hot fat. Then the chorizo, butter and herbs are added to the pan and the scallops are basted as they caramelize on the outside (the recipe calls for specific fresh herbs, but you can substitute your favorites or use just one herb) .
The resulting chorizo-enhanced sauce is so flavorful that even non-scallop lovers would likely be delighted. I chose to balance out the richness by serving it with steamed couscous, but you can choose rice or any grain you prefer.
This idea of throwing just a little chorizo into dishes that need a little flavor is why I try to keep sausage on hand.
If you want to try playing around with chorizo, you don’t need a specific recipe, just dice it, crisp it up and add it to a salad, marinara sauce in a quick blender, a plate of pasta, a baked potato and, of course, eggs of all kinds.
Pan-fried scallops with crunchy chorizo
This simple preparation calls for large fresh scallops. Chorizo and butter add a richness to mild seafood. The recipe calls for specific fresh herbs, but you can substitute your favorites or use just one herb. Serve the scallops with couscous or rice and/or a fresh green salad.
This recipe creates a rich buttery sauce, but, if you prefer, you can make it with olive oil.
Storage Notes: Refrigerate up to 1 day.
Remarks: When buying scallops, check the labels and ask your fishmonger for dry scallops, that is to say fresh and not chemically treated; they will type correctly. Wet scallops are treated with sodium tripolyphosphate, a chemical that causes water to squeeze out of scallops when cooked and can prevent proper searing.
Do not substitute pearl or Israeli couscous, as it requires a different cooking method.
Total time: 25 minutes
For the couscous:
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
200g plain couscous (see notes)
¼ teaspoon fine salt
For the scallops:
16 medium/large scallops (about 680g) (see notes)
2 tablespoons rapeseed oil or other neutral oil
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, thinly sliced
85 g dry chorizo, cut into small pieces
3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
2 tablespoons chopped fresh curly parsley leaves and tender stems
1 tbsp chopped fresh dill leaves and tender stems
Freshly ground black pepper
Lemon, cut into 4 wedges, to serve
Prepare the couscous: In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon oil until simmering. Add the couscous and cook, stirring frequently, until the grains begin to brown, about 3 minutes. Add water and salt and stir briefly to combine. Bring the water to a boil, cover and remove the pan from the heat. Let stand until liquid is absorbed and couscous is tender, about 7 minutes. Uncover and flake the couscous with a fork.
Make the scallops: while the couscous cooks, remove the side muscle of each scallop by pulling it and pat the scallops dry. This keeps them from spitting up when added to hot oil.
In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, heat oil until simmering. Add the scallops. They should sizzle when they touch the hot oil. Cook without moving them until seared until caramel-colored, about 1 minute. Season lightly with salt and pepper, flip and cook on the other side until golden brown, about 1 minute.
Add the butter, chorizo, chives, parsley and dill, and when the butter begins to foam, baste the scallops for about 30 seconds. Keep your temperature on medium-high to help caramelize the scallops further as the butter melts, cooking 1-2 minutes, but adjusting the heat if the butter starts to burn. It’s okay if it turns brown and smells nutty.
Divide the couscous among individual plates and top with the scallops and a little chorizo sauce. Serve with lemon wedges.
Nutritional information per serving (4 scallops, ½ cup couscous and approximately ¼ cup sauce) | Calories: 792; total fat: 50g; saturated fat: 24g; cholesterol: 136mg; sodium: 937mg; carbohydrates: 55 g; dietary fiber: 4g; sugar: 0g; protein: 28g
This analysis is an estimate based on the available ingredients and this preparation. It should not replace the advice of a dietitian or nutritionist.
© The Washington Post