A Night In
Do you ever feel like you go through the same dozen or so recipes over and over? Sometimes we all just get into a bit of a rut with dinner, even me. One of the wonderful things about writing this blog is that it forces me out of it. Adding this pan seared scallops with pea puree recipe and a refreshing burst of mint oil is sure to inspire you to get into the kitchen, even when you don’t feel like cooking. This dish can be served as an appetizer or as an entree.
Back in my restaurant kitchen days, I’d work 14 hour days and the last thing I wanted to do at 2 a.m. was fire up the stove and cook for myself. Most of us went to a diner after work or made a PB & J when we got home.
Sometimes I miss those days, believe it or not. Not quite enough to do it all over again, but the rush of a restaurant kitchen is pretty seductive. The sound of ticket after ticket spitting out in front you, giving you all of your orders… you start calculating in your head just how people are out there waiting for your food!
A professional kitchen is like a well choreographed dance.
Everyone moves within inches of one another, speaking to each other every few minutes communicating your expected time to the pass. There is a camaraderie unlike any other environment out there if you’re lucky.
I have told this story many times to people over the years… there was a single moment early in my kitchen days when all of us working at a certain well-known restaurant stopped what we were doing and looked up at each other.
We just stopped and finally someone verbalized what we were all thinking: “it will never get better than this” and he was right. That particular kitchen was absolute utopia. We worked insane hours and we worked hard, but we were happy. We stopped every day at 4 p.m. sharp to have family meal together and to just have a moment of peace before the hundreds of patrons descended upon us for for next 8 hours.
It was an amazing experience that I look back on very fondly.
The kitchen I currently work in can be just as hectic (especially around the holidays), which will be here before you know it. I know I am not alone in having a crazy schedule.
There are people out there that have much more than I do to balance and we all have moments when we are just happy to get something on the table.
I was reminiscing about restaurant days and thus, this recipe came to fruition. It takes pretty ordinary ingredients and makes them a little more special.
Scallops with Pea Puree and Mint Oil
- 6 scallops (ask your fish counter for U-10)
- 1 cup + 2 tbsp. grapeseed or canola oil
- 1 bunch mint, leaves removed from stem (for mint oil)
- 1/2 bunch mint, chopped (for pea puree)
- 3 cups peas (fresh shelled English peas are best if you can get them, if not use frozen)
- 2 tbsp Boursin cheese
- 4 tbsp creme fraiche or sour cream
- salt & pepper
- First the mint oil: Blanch the mint leaves for 30 seconds in a pot of boiling water. Strain and squeeze out as much water as you possibly can. Wrapping a clean dish towel around it as you squeeze will help absorb more of the water.
- Break apart the mint leaves a bit with your fingers and add them to a blender with 1 cup of oil. Put blender on full whack and let it go. It will take a few minutes, but the oil will become bright green and beautiful. When it has come to that point, shut it off and strain the oil through a fine sieve. (If you have a chinois, use it. If you have no idea what a chinois is, you’re not alone. If you have cheesecloth, use it. If not, no worries…) Mint oil is done. Set aside. (This can be done with any herb)
- Next is the pea puree: Wipe out the blender and add the peas, Boursin, creme fraiche or sour cream and the half bunch of chopped mint. Turn it on medium-high speed, you may have to shut it off and move it around with a spatula to give the blender a little help… Once the puree is fairly smooth and everything looks uniform and combined, it’s done. Pour pea puree into a small pot and heat through.
- Finally, the scallops: Heat a pan over medium high heat and add the 2 tbsp of oil. When the oil “shimmers”, pat the scallops dry, salt and pepper them and begin setting them in. It is absolutely essential for the pan to be hot. You are looking for a nice sear on the scallop. I like to start at the top of my pan (12 o’clock) and work clock-wise from there. That way I know which one was the first one in. Cook scallops for 3 minutes each side, without disturbing them. Remove from pan and set aside to avoid over-cooking.
- Place a dollop of pea puree on the plate and set scallop(s) on, then dot with mint oil.
Serves 6 as an appetizer or 2 as an entree.