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Friday, March 25, 2011

Scallops with Caramel-Orange Sauce - French Fridays with Dorie

When we were in Puerto Rico recently (I feel like half of my sentences begin with the phrase "when we were in Puerto Rico"--we had such a good time!), we ate at the highly regarded restaurant, Pikayo, where I had seared scallops with a sweet plum wine sauce. It was very good, but I have to say that it wasn't as good as these scallops from Around My French Table. Of course, I didn't have a nice waiter refilling my wine glass at home, but it was a lot cheaper.

This is the easiest FFWD recipe so far. Once you've made the commitment to plunk down the money for sea scallops, the rest couldn't be simpler. It's so simple that you'd better make the caramel sauce (don't worry--it's not as sweet as it sounds) first. I served the scallops with leftover potato-kale cakes and a simple salad, because I could see that I wasn't going to have time for anything else.

The sugar is fully caramelized almost before it's melted. You have to be a little careful that it doesn't start to burn.

When you pour in the wine and the orange juice, it starts to bubble like crazy. It's very thin at this point, but will reduce in just a few minutes. The sweet plum wine sauce at Pikayo was a little too sweet; this sauce, with its dry white wine, tangy orange juice, and hint of caramelsweetness, was more balanced.

If there's a trick to this dish, I guess it would be simply to make sure the scallops are dry and and the pan is hot before starting to sear them.

Oh, and the second trick: have faith in the timing. It really is two minutes on the first side and one to two on the second. I didn't believe the scallops would be fully cooked just 90 seconds after being flipped, but they were perfect.

While you're plating the food, you have just enough time to enrich the sauce, that's been resting on low heat while you've been timing the scallops, with a few small pats of butter. It's a glorious, shiny brown. It looks so good you know it has to taste good too.

My daughter loves seared scallops. Her birthday is coming up soon, and I think I'll make these scallops for her. I'm pretty sure she'll say, "You're the best mom in the world." Or maybe she'll just say, "These are the best scallops in the world." Oh well. Close enough.


  1. Hey - compliments to the chef are just as good as compliments about the chef, right? It was amazing how something so simple could be so good.

  2. I'm so glad that I'm reading all of these positive experiences with this recipe. I'm definitely going to have to try it again.

  3. Wow, where to start... you had me at Puerto Rico! I've been there twice for work over the past month, been to Pikayo a couple of times, met the chef/owner Wilo Bennet, and made a couple of (terrific) meals from his cookbook. I feel a bond!!

    OK, so the other part is that your post is terrific. Your photos are amazing. I'm sure you'll get the "best Mom" comments... and really, aren't they both kinda the same? I'm sure it will be a wonderful birthday.

  4. Your last paragraph made my day! Things that kids would say!

  5. Cher,
    I agree--nothing like the combination of simple and delicious.

    Or you could just move on to the next recipe--I can't believe how many there are to try out.

    I think Puerto Rico is an underrated country. I loved everything about it. How fun that you got to talk to Wilo Bennet!

    Even when they're grownup kids!

  6. Another Wilo Benet fan here, but of course, he's my homeboy! I haven't been to Pikayo since before they moved to the Conrad. I almost burned my sugar; I'm used to cooking it by the cupful to coat flan pans so I left it alone for a wee bit longer than what I should have. I love the beautiful sear you got going there!

  7. Oh man, this week has been so crazy for me! And I did not have a chance to go to the supermarket to get the scallops, but oh boy am I going to make this dish this weekend!

    I see that Puerto Rico won you over big time.. eh?

  8. Looks great! Your potato-kale cakes sound interesting. I loved the seared scallops even though I wasn't wild about the sauce. Had to try to know though.

  9. Great process photos! Looks so good!

  10. Adriana,
    I went to the museum of art of Puerto Rico intending to have lunch at Pikayo (my guidebook was a little outdated), and finally figured out that it had moved. (The new restaurant at the museum isi also quite good).

    This is really a good dish to make when things are crazy at work. You can turn it out faster than a frozen pizza.

    You are so right--if you try enough new things, some of them will be great and some will be duds.

    Thanks! It was.

  11. Great photos and commentary. I think you really capture my overall experience with this recipe when you said "once you've made the commitment to plunk down money for sea scallops the rest couldn't be simpler". We were delighted and I didn't eat scallops before this. The next time I see them on sale (and I will now watch....) I know what my guys are getting !

  12. That is the mosts gorgeous dark sear! Just the way I like it I'm jealous I want to eat them right now.

  13. Your photos are making me want to make this all over again. Sounds like you made good choices for accompaniment for the scallops - you don't want anything to overwhelm the subtle flavour of the sauce.

  14. Tricia,
    Good idea to watch for scallops on sale! You don't see them often, but when you do....

    Sis. Boom,
    I think it's the best sear I've ever had on seafood. Dorie's instructions were very hellpful.

    You're right about not wanting to overwhelm the scallops, but, in truth, I chose what was easiest.

  15. I'm sure your daughter will hug you after eating them! This recipe was pretty good :)

  16. Gorgeous sear on those scallops! These look absolutely delicious. :)

  17. I usually get impatient about letting the pan get hot enough--I hope I'll remember how good the results are with a very hot pan.