Appetizers Cooking Main Dishes Miscellaneous

Sauteed Scallops with Spiced Couscous and Preserved Lemon-Curry Sauce

Remember those Preserved Lemons I made just before going away on vacation? Well, they’re ready now!


This is the recipe I made them specifically for, so last night I made it for Jim and my friend Cyrena. (I don’t eat shellfish, so I just got to enjoy the beauty of the dish.) The recipe came out of the book Cooking My Way Back Home by by Mitchell Rosenthal which is an inspiring new cookbook by the chef/owner of the San Francisco restaurants Town Hall, Anchor and Hope, and Salt House.


I love to cook for Cyrena because she makes a lot of what I call “yummy noises”. A true appreciator of food is always a joy to cook for, and she made a lot of yummy noises over this dish. I almost took a picture of her chasing the last grain of couscous around the plate and then licking the plate clean.

I’m not going to lie and say this isn’t a complicated recipe. It’s not something you’re going to throw together in 30 minutes, and not something you’re likely to make on a school/work weeknight (unless you’re an idiot, like me). That said, it is a lovely and impressive dish and one that should be made on a weekend or for your next dinner party. You could even serve it in miniature as an appetizer portion (maybe with one or two scallops and small portions of couscous and fennel salad).

I had every intention of making my own shrimp stock, but I couldn’t find shrimp with their head’s on, which is what the recipe called for. In the end I purchased frozen fish stock, which I figured was close enough, but use shrimp (home made or purchased) stock if you can. I also didn’t have any fresh dill for the couscous, so I used a few shakes of dried. Prepare all of your ingredients prior to cooking as things come together pretty quickly once you start cooking and you won’t have time to stop and chop vegetables in the middle of cooking.

Jim felt a little short-changed with just 3 scallops for his meal, so you  might want to up your scallop count if you’re serving hungry men.

Sauteed Scallops with Spiced Couscous and Preserved Lemon-Curry Sauce

Curry Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1/2 carrot, halved lengthwise and sliced crosswise
  • 1/2 celery stalk, sliced
  • 1/2 leek, white and tender green parts, halved lengthwise and sliced crosswise
  • 3-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 green onion, white and tender green parts, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
  • 1/3 cup miring
  • 1/2 cup dry vermouth
  • 2 cups Shrimp Stock
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons

Spiced Couscous

  • 1-3/4 cups (1/2 pound) Israeli couscous
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • 1/3 cup fennel, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup finely diced preserved lemon
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill (I didn’t have any fresh dill so I used a few shakes of dried dill)
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 5 ounces mustard greens, trimmed, parboiled for 3 to 5 minutes, drained, squeezed dry, and coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Fennel salad

  • 1/2 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

2 pounds dry-packed scallops

Canola oil, for sautéeing

To make the sauce, in a small, dry frying pan, toast the curry powder over medium heat, stirring often, for about 1 minute, or until fragrant. Set aside. In a saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the carrot, celery, leek, ginger,and green onion and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the vegetables start to soften. Stir in the curry powder, turn down the heat to low, add the vinegar, and deglaze the pan, stirring to scrape up any browned bits from the pan bottom. Cook until the vinegar evaporates, then add the mirin and simmer for 2 minutes.


Add the vermouth and simmer for 2 minutes, then add the stock and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the mixture reduces slightly and the flavors are well blended. Add the cream, season with salt and pepper, and then cook for a few more minutes. Remove the sauce from the heat, strain through a fine-mesh strainer, and then return to the saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, and whisk in the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking after each addition until fully incorporated. When done, remove from the heat and keep warm.


to prepare the couscous, cook the couscous according to the package directions, then toss with the olive oil and set aside. Rinse off the prepared lemons in cold water (I used about 1-1/2 to get 1/4 cup), and using a knife, scrape away and discard the pulp. I also scraped away the very top layer of the white inside as it seemed a little spongy and unappetizing. Dice the lemon finely. In a large sauté pan, heat the canola oil over low heat. Add the fennel and preserved lemon and cook, stirring, until the fennel is soft. Add the dill and cayenne pepper and stir well. Add the prepared couscous to the fennel mixture and stir to combine. Remove from heat.


Season couscous with 1 teaspoon salt and the mustard greens. Mix well and season with salt and pepper. Cover and set the sauté pan aside for finishing up just before serving.


to prepare the salad, in a bowl, combine the fennel, oil, and lemon juice and toss to coat the fennel evenly. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.


to cook the scallops, heat a large sauté pan over high heat. When the pan is hot, add a thin layer of oil and heat until it shimmers. Add the scallops and cook, turning once, for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, or until nicely caramelized on the exterior and medium-rare at the center.


While the scallops are cooking, finish the couscous. Return the sauté pan to medium heat and re-heat the couscous over medium heat, stirring frequently. Cut the butter into 1/4-inch cubes. When the couscous is heated through, add the butter and stir gently until melted and evenly distributed.

To serve, divide the couscous among individual plates. Arrange some of the fennel salad and 3 scallops on top of each serving. Pour some sauce around the edge of the couscous on each plate, then drizzle some on top of each scallop.


Serve immediately.


Print This Recipe Print This Recipe Pin It

Comments

  1. I live in fear of developing an adult onset seafood allergy! I love seafood – and this dish looks and sounds wonderful. I suspect that it would be significantly different without the curry – but I cannot seem to develop a taste for it.

    • You might try it using just cumin – do you like the flavor of the flavor of cumin? I’m going to think about this and what you could substitute besides curry powder. I think cumin would work pretty well.

  2. To all the readers out there: This was probably the best scallop dish I have EVER eaten. Upper crust restaurant quality. Of course I was chatting away while she literally threw together the whole meal so it LOOKS easy. Although it did smell like curry when I walked in the door so that portion was already completed when I arrived. I had the left over couscous and fennel salad warmed up in the microwave the following day with some basil meatballs and it was JUST as delicious the second day. The curry flavor is not overwhelming, in fact I found there were a lot of bursting citrus flavors all over the whole dish. I would definitely make this dish for someone I really liked because if it is as time consuming as she says, then it is worth it!

Speak Your Mind

*