Pan-seared sea scallops with chanterelles
Set the table and have the rest of the meal ready before you begin to prepare this dish. Your aim with the scallops is to produce a crispy brown exterior around a meltingly tender heart. It goes very fast — and if you tarry, the scallops will toughen.
Use fresh sea scallops if you can find them, but if not frozen scallops also work well. If you are using frozen scallops, defrost them completely before you begin to ensure that they brown properly. You may use scallops with their coral attached or without.
As for the mushroooms, if chanterelles are not available, use a different type of wild mushrooms, for example morels, which are available dried as well as fresh. Dried mushrooms need to be soaked in warm water for about an hour, then drained and patted dry. I would recommend against using cultivated white mushrooms with this recipe.
8 large or 16 small sea scallops
160 g. (6 oz.) chanterelle mushrooms
3 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp. unsalted butter
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely minced
2 tbsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
Rinse the scallops and dry them thoroughly: Place them between two layers of paper towels, pat dry, and repeat with fresh towels. Set aside.
Brush the mushrooms with a pastry brush to remove any leaves or earthy bits that may be clinging to them. This is the best way to clean them, for they will retain all of their woodsy flavor. If the mushrooms have so much of the forest clinging to them that you absolutely need to wash them, immerse them in water briefly and spin dry in a salad spinner. Then pat dry with paper towels.
Delicately trim off the earthy bottoms off the mushroom stems, retaining as much of each mushroom as possible. Slice the largest mushrooms in half.
Heat 1 tsp. olive oil to sizzling in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add the mushrooms and sauté over high heat, stirring very gently from time to time. Cook for about 3 minutes until they begin to release their juices. Add a pinch of salt and grind in some black pepper. Turn off the heat and set aside.
Assemble the minced garlic and chopped parsley on a plate next to the stove.
Heat the remaining 2 tsp. olive oil in a heavy-bottomed frying pan. When it is very hot, add the butter. Let is melt, then add the scallops.
Allow the scallops to sear over high heat for about one minute. Do not disturb them while they are cooking. Flip them over — they should be a golden brown. Sauté for one minute more. Add the minced garlic and sauté briefly. Add the cooked mushrooms and allow to heat through for another minute. Turn off the heat. Add the chopped parsley and lemon juice. Stir. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve immediately, accompanied by a salad of arugula or mixed greens or a compatible vegetable, for example a pumpkin purée with parmesan. Serves 2.