I’m in a seafood frame of mind. My last post was on Moqueca, a lovely, spicy Brazilian fish and shrimp stew. On today’s menu are scallops. Big, juicy scallops, generously seasoned with Old St Augustine Gourmet’s Brand New Gourmet Datil Garlic Seasoning Blend. Okay, I know what you’re thinking – “You can’t use garlic seasoning to blacken something” – but hear me out. Gourmet Datil Garlic is perfect as a blackened seasoning. This blend of ripe, fruity datil peppers, garlic, onion and parsley, is absolutely dynamite on scallops and shrimp.
Here I’ve taken big, beautiful scallops and generously coated them with Old St Augustine Gourmet Datil Garlic. They get a quick sear in my grandmother’s old cast iron skillet with just a pat of butter. That’s it. Super simple, yet worthy of a five-star restaurant menu.
I topped these beautiful blackened scallops with a dollop of homemade basil pesto, roasted red peppers, and a squeeze of fresh lemon. Wow! The flavors really popped. The scallops were juicy and tender, and the sweet flavor of the scallops combined with the pungent garlic was absolutely amazing.
I can’t wait to make them again. Next time I may use my NEW Datil Chipotle Steak Seasoning, or Scovie Award Winning Datil Jerk, or my Fresh from Florida Datil Zest. Any of them would be wonderful here. You don’t have to limit yourself to a “blackened seasoning” mix to make “blackened” scallops. Why not get creative? The “blackening” is achieved with the hottest cast iron skillet you can get. I mean really, really hot! Like so hot it’s smokin’!
Once the pan is smoking, add the butter and the scallops. Don’t stir them around or you’ll break up those fragile, tender scallops and lose the glorious seasoned coating. Scallops cook very quickly, so give them a minute or two at the most for really large ones, then turn them over gently and blacken the other side. Once again, you only need a minute of cooking and they’re ready to take up and plate however you wish.
I added fresh basil pesto and roasted red peppers, finishing the scallops off with a squeeze of fresh lemon. You could leave them alone and eat as-is, or feel free to add your favorite seafood sauce, horseradish, spicy mustard sauce, or whatever you like with seafood.
Fun Facts About Scallops:
Scallops live in saltwater environments worldwide, and there are over 300 species.
Scallops can have anywhere from 50 to 100 eyes which may be a brilliant blue color. Scallops can detect light, dark and motion.
Scallops, unlike clams and mussels, can swim. They open and shut their shells quickly, creating a a jet of water which propels them forward.
Atlantic sea scallop shells can grow up to 9 inches in length. while bay scallop shells are smaller, growing only to about 4 inches.
One Sea Scallop contains approximately 35 calories, 1.75 grams of total fat, 78 milligrams of sodium, 54 milligrams of potassium, 1.68 grams of total carbohydrates, 2.9 grams of protein, calcium, Vitamin C and iron.
Like shrimp, scallops should be labeled with the actual count of scallops per pound, and not just small, medium or large. For example, sea scallops labeled 10 to 20 may include some that are up to two inches in diameter, while bay scallops labelled 30 to 40 will be much smaller.
Both Winston Churchill and John Wesley used scallop shells in their coat of arms.
Fun Facts About Garlic:
April 19 is National Garlic Day.
If your garlic starts to sprout, don’t throw it away. Use both the cloves and tender green shoots. The growing stalks can be used just like scallions in cooking and as a pretty green garnish.
Garlic contains allicin, an antibiotic and anti-fungal that is believed to reduce “bad” cholesterol by inhibiting enzymes from growing in liver cells.
Allicin helps to release nitric oxide in blood vessels which can reduce blood pressure.
That same allicin, however, acts as a blood thinner. *Just as with leafy greens, if you are taking anticoagulants like warfarin, you will want to check with your doctor before eating garlic.
Garlic contains potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, selenium, beta-carotene and Vitamin C.
Traditional Chinese and Indian medicine has used garlic as a remedy for cough, colds, and bronchitis.
Two-thirds of the world’s garlic is grown in China.
Heat a large cast iron skillet until it is smoking. **(I prepare this outside over a burner due to the smoke it generates. If you decide to do this inside, you will want to open your windows and maybe turn off the smoke detector until after you have finished. Trust me on this one. That’s why I do it outside, and it’s well worth the effort.)
Add 1-2 Tablespoon butter to the hot pan. Be careful – as you can see in the picture, it probably will flare up.
Quickly add the scallops, making sure they do not touch one another.
Cook for approximately 1 1/2 minutes, without moving them in the pan to sear the scallops and create the blackened crust.
Quickly but gently flip the scallops over.
Cook for one minute more and turn off the heat. You want the scallops to be blackened on each side, but opaque in the center. Be careful not to overcook, as the scallops will continue to cook on their own once you take them off the heat..
Immediately plate the scallops.
Add a small dollop of pesto to the top of each scallop and add a few pieces of roasted red pepper.
Serve with lemon wedges.
This recipe can be doubled to use as an entree. Each person will have 4 scallops, which can be served with your choice of sides. I especially like steamed asparagus and roasted red potatoes. Just be sure everything else is ready to go before you cook the scallops. They are best served hot right out of the pan, and do not re-heat well.