This recipe is perfect to showcase fresh corn and is best made in the summer when corn is available in abundance. I’m of the opinion that corn is best when you can find it in the husks, straight from the farmer’s garden, or better yet from your own garden. However, it’s generally not considered kosher to pull the husks off before purchasing - meaning you buy the corn as is. I’ve actually seen customers get a dirty look from vendors at farm stands when they peel the husks, or in some cases, actually verbal reprimands from the sellers. So what is the best way to select corn? According to the website The World’s Healthiest Foods, “you should look for corn whose husks are fresh and green and not dried out. The husks should envelope the ear and not fit too loosely around it. Traditionally to enjoy the optimal sweetness of fresh corn, eat it the day of purchase. New varieties allow you three days to still enjoy its full flavor. Store corn in an air-tight container or tightly wrapped plastic bag in the refrigerator if you do not intend to cook it on the same day of purchase. Do not remove its husk because the husk protects its flavor.”
Do you have any tips on the best way you select corn?
I consider sea scallops to be a treat, primarily because they can be pricy. I think the most difficult thing about scallops is finding the correct ones. Dry pack scallops are the very best money can buy and I encourage you to seek them out. Here's a link that will explain all about dry pack scallops. I suggest that you avoid scallops that have been soaked in brine because they are very difficult to brown properly and to many people, including us, they leave a tangy aftertaste in your mouth. Scallops aren’t particularly difficult to prepare. You just need to be very careful not to overcook them, otherwise they turn out tough and chewy and very unappetizing.
We’ve seasoned the scallops with smoked sweet Spanish paprika, also called Pimenton de la Vera, to give the scallops a hint of smoked flavor. In the past smoked paprika could be difficult to find, but I’ve seen it from McCormick in my local supermarket. However, if you can find the artisan Spanish one in the red tin (La Chinta, available from La Tienda at gourmet shops and on line, link here.), I think it is superior to the supermarket ones because the artisan quality of smoked paprika is generally thought to be the best. Here’s a fun fact – Spanish paprika is grown, smoked and milled in the micro-climate of La Vera, not far from where Christopher Columbus presented the first plants to Ferdinand and Isabella.
My Mother's Easy Way to Cook rice that has never let me down
My mother had a very easy but unusual way to cook rice and I’ll share her method with you. It always turned out perfectly, no lumps or sticky clumps, and no fancy cookers. She cooked her rice in lots of boiling salted water, the same way you cook pasta. Twenty minutes for white rice, 35 minutes for brown. After draining it well, she put the rice back in the pan, stirred in a pat of butter, and left it covered on the stove for up to twenty minutes before serving. She always used Uncle Ben’s converted rice and I’ve never used anything else, so I’m not sure how it would work with other brands. But I will add that this recipe for rice has never let me down.
Fresh Corn & Sweet Red Peppers with Sea Scallops
Adapted from Sunset magazine – serves 6
6 servings of rice, prepared either according to package directions or my mother’s method above
3 ears of yellow corn, about 2 ½ lbs total, husked, silks removed
1 ¼ pounds dry pack sea scallops
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Smoked sweet Spanish paprika, also known as Pimenton
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
1 to 2 small cloves of garlic, peeled & minced
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, plus some whole leaves for garnish
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Prepare six servings of rice. When cooked, drain well, stir in a little butter to coat the rice kernels, cover and briefly set aside on the stove while you prepare the vegetables and scallops. Right before serving, spray 6 small ramekins with cooking spray and mound rice into the molds, packing well. Invert ramekins on the individual bowls that you plan to use for the vegetables and scallops, but do not unmold the rice yet. Let it sit in the ramekins while you prepare the vegetables and scallops.
Remove the corn from the cob with a sharp knife. I like to cut mine into a paper plate. Rinse scallops and pat dry, then sprinkle lightly with salt, freshly ground black pepper and smoked paprika.
Melt 1 tablespoons of butter with 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a 10 to 12” nonstick skillet over high heat. Add corn kernels, bell peppers, garlic and cumin and cook, stirring often, until vegetables are crisp tender, about 3 minutes, taking care not to let the garlic burn. Remove from heat and set aside.
Melt the remaining butter and oil in another 10 to 12” nonstick skillet over high heat. Cook until scallops are browned on the outside and barely opaque in the center, turning once, about 4 to 5 minutes total, depending on their size. Take care not to overcook the scallops or they will be tough. When scallops are done to your liking, stir in the cilantro.
Just before serving, stir basil into the vegetable mixture and taste for seasonings. Spoon vegetables into wide, shallow individual bowls, gently remove ramekins off of the molded rice, then add the scallops and any pan juices and garnish with basil leaves.
Cook’s notes: I suggest doubling the recipe for the corn & peppers if you like a lot of vegetables and especially if are are going to serve more than 4 people. You could also substitute a small pasta, such as orzo, for the rice.
This will be shared with Foodie Friday at Rattlebridge Farms, Miz Helen’s Country Kitchen Full Plate Thursday, Foodie Friday at Simple Recipes, Foodtastic Friday at Not Your Ordinary Recipes, and Seasonal Sunday at the Tablescaper.