I got the idea for this summer scallop salad from the August issue of Bon Appetit magazine. The recipe was featured in the “Fast, Easy, Fresh” section of the magazine and promised only 15 minutes of prep, which was right up my alley.
The problem is, the recipe featured shrimp (which my husband is highly allergic to) and also wasn’t really all that hearty of a salad. I was looking for a meal salad and I knew that even though I might only spend 15 minutes making the Bon Appetite version I would need to spend extra time making side dishes. Also, the Bon Appetit recipe called for Asian sweet chili sauce which I didn’t have on hand and wasn’t in the mood to hunt for.
Anyway, the very first thing I had to do was swap scallops for the shrimp. Of course if you don’t need to worry about shrimp allergies then go right ahead and use shrimp. The next thing I needed to do was add more “substance” as well as some vegetables. While my version is still super easy and ultra fast to assemble (it’s got less than 10 ingredients—salt doesn’t count!), it’s got the addition of red peppers, more avocado, more mango and different flavors. Instead of the Asian sweet chili sauce called for in Bon Appetit, I use lime juice, cilantro, garlic, ginger and cayenne pepper. I guess now that I think about it, my salad is pretty much totally different than the magazine version….
My husband loved the taste of the summer scallop salad but he thought it still needed even more substance to be a complete meal. So next time I will add sprouted whole grain bread croutons and black beans.
Just a Word About How to Choose the Best Scallops
Buying scallops can a bit confusing if you don’t know what you are doing. You first want to decide if you want big scallops or little scallops. Personally, I go for sea scallops; these are the big boys and they always taste better. The little ones are called bay scallops and these are considerably cheaper than the sea scallops. But you do get what you pay for. I also highly recommend you look for diver scallops. As their name implies, diver scallops really are “hand picked” by divers who physically jump into the water and hand select them. This “hand picked” method is in sharp contrast to scallops that are raised in scallop farms or the scallops collected by fishing boats that sweep huge nets along the bottom of the ocean floor. The divers usually choose the biggest and most mature scallops, which is more ecologically friendly since the little scallops are left alone. And, since the divers don’t need to sweep huge nets across the bottom of the ocean floor it’s much better for the ocean environment. The diver scallops are also considerably less gritty (they haven’t been dredged across the sandy sea floor) and fresher since they make it to market faster.
You also want to look for “chemical free” or “dry packed” scallops, otherwise you’ll get scallops soaked in a phosphate solution that taste like soap. Again, you get what you pay for. The scallops soaked in phosphate cause the scallops to absorb more liquid and can increase their weight by as much as 30 percent. So you end up paying more per pound for water. When you cook the phosphate-dipped scallops tons of extra water drains into the pan and you end up getting a soapy-looking mess. Not a good deal.
Make Sure to Pat Your Scallops DRY!!
Oh!! And one final tip! You’ll want to rinse your scallops under cold water before cooking them. But, after that, you want to make sure you pat them as dry as possible before you do anything else (paper towels will do the trick). If your scallops aren’t super dry before you cook them they just won’t taste as good.
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- 1 pound diver sea scallops, rinsed and patted dry
- Unrefined sea salt, to taste
- Cayenne pepper, to taste
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh peeled gingerroot
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- Juice from 1 whole lime
- 2 Haas avocados, peeled, pitted and cut into small cubes
- 3 red bell peppers, chopped
- 2 mangoes, peeled, pitted and cut into small cubes
- ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- Season the scallops with salt and cayenne pepper to taste. Set scallops aside.
- Heat the oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and ginger and sauté 30 seconds. Add the scallops and sear 45 seconds each side. Squeeze lime juice on top of the scallops and continue cooking until cooked through (be careful not to over cook!) Remove scallops from the heat and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, add the avocados, red bell pepper, mangoes and cilantro; gently toss. Season with salt and cayenne pepper to taste. Add the scallops and gently toss once more. Serve at room temperature.