Scallops sautéed in sweet wine
The beauty of this very quick recipe is that it works just as well with frozen scallops as with fresh ones. But beware — frozen scallops must be entirely defrosted before you begin, otherwise you will not produce the beautiful outer crispness that makes this dish so special. You may use scallops with their coral attached, as shown in the picture, or without.
10 large or 16 small scallops
2 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp. unsalted butter
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely minced
1 branch thyme or 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 tbsp. vin de muscat or another sweet wine*
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 handfuls arugula or another kind of salad leaf
Rinse the scallops and dry them thoroughly: Place them between two layers of paper towels, pat dry, and repeat with fresh towels.
Scatter the greens over two salad plates. No dressing is needed — the juices from the scallops will suffice.
Have the table ready before you begin. Your aim with the scallops is to produce a crispy brown exterior around a meltingly tender heart that is only barely cooked. It goes very fast — and if you tarry, the scallops will toughen.
Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. When it is very hot, add the butter and the scallops. Sauté the scallops about one minute. Flip them over — they will be a golden brown. Add the thyme and minced garlic and sauté for one minute more. Now add the sweet wine. Simmer for 30 seconds. Season with salt and pepper.
Remove from heat, distribute over the greens and serve immediately. Serves 2 as a starter or salad.
If you would like to serve these glorious scallops as a main dish, double the recipe and serve alongside a vegetable or grain or both.
* Vin de muscat is what the French call a ‘vin doux naturel’ because its sweetness comes directly from the vine and not from addition of sugar. It is light and crisp and lovely to the taste, and works very well in cooking. For this recipe, if muscat is not available where you live, try a different sweet wine: white vermouth, sherry, port, Sauternes, or even apple jack (which I’ve tried with fantastic results).