March 29, 2011

Scallops with Mandarin Oranges and Watercress

After the last time I prepared scallops went so well, I was eager to make scallops again.   This time around I went with a much different mix of flavors, though I did stick with a citrus element, since fruit flavors - and especially orange - go well with scallops.  

Looking for ideas, I found a recipe for Scallops with Black Bean Sauce and Watercress in the Spring 2011 edition of America's Test Kitchen's 30-Minute Recipes.  There were some elements to that dish that I liked, so I used that as a starting point in designing my own recipe.  Although I kept the watercress - something I've not really done much with in the past - and the black bean and garlic sauce, I ended up changing most of the other seasonings.  I also added some shitake mushrooms to give the dish more of a savory element, and (obviously) the mandarin oranges.

The resulting dish was quite good.   Neither Juli nor I liked it quite as much as we did the Scallops and Asparagus with Orange Sauce, but it was a fairly close second.  Sweetness (the scallops, sugar, ginger and mandarin oranges) was balanced by sour (the Chinese black vinegar) and bitter (watercress) overtones, with the bean sauce providing a bit of salt and, along with the mushrooms and garlic, a savory depth of flavor.  This made for a really satisfying meal.

Scallops with Mandarin Oranges and Watercress

yield = 2 servings

2            tablespoons black bean and garlic sauce
2            teaspoons Chinese black vinegar
1            teaspoon sugar
1            teaspoon cornstarch
6            tablespoons water
8            sea scallops (about 1 1/4 pounds), tendon removed
              salt and pepper to taste
3            tablespoons canola oil
2            ounces fresh shitake mushrooms, stems removed, caps sliced
6            green onions, thinly sliced, white and green parts separated
1            tablespoon minced ginger
1            teaspoon fresh, grated ginger
1            teaspoon minced garlic
1/8         teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2            cups watercress leaves
2            cups hot, cooked rice
1            small can (11 ounces) mandarin oranges, drained

Combine black bean and garlic sauce, black vinegar, sugar, corn starch and water in a small bowl.  Stir to mix, then set aside.

Pat scallops dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.  Heat two tablespoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat until starting to smoke.   Add scallops and cook until deep golden brown on one side, about 3 minutes, then flip and cook on the other side until there is only the slightest hint of translucence along the edges of the scallops (about 2 more minutes, but go by appearance more than time).  Transfer scallops to a plate and tent with foil.

Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil and heat, then add the mushrooms.  Cook 3 minutes, then add the white parts of the green onions.  Cook another minute, then add minced and grated ginger, garlic and red pepper flakes.  Cook about 1 minute, then add the black bean sauce mixture and watercress and cook until the sauce thickens.  Remove from heat and stir in the green parts of the green onions. 

Prepare individual servings by arranging four scallops atop a serving of rice and surrounding with mandarin orange slices, then topping with a helping of the sauce.  Serve and enjoy.

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