Thursday, March 29, 2012

Sea Scallops with Mint & Pea Puree – Fit for a Queen

There’s something about seared sea scallops that’s so special and fancy. Perhaps because to some of us they are a special treat. Served over this bright green mint and pea puree, they look very regal and fit for a Queen.

Scallops aren’t particularly difficult to prepare. You just need to be very careful not to overcook them, because if you do, they turn out tough and chewy and very unappetizing.

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. In some markets they are also called “diver scallops.” If at all possible you want to avoid scallops that have been soaked in brine. Why? Because they are very difficult to near impossible to brown properly and, to me, they leave a bit of a tangy aftertaste in your mouth. Scallops should smell and taste like the sea – fresh.

This is a great dish for guests because the mint and pea puree can be made the day before and stored, covered, in the refrigerator and reheated at the last minute while you are searing the scallops. The original recipe calls for serving 4 scallops per guest, but if you can find the big diver sea scallops as I’ve shown here, I think 3 per guests is ample. If you use this an appetizer, perhaps even 2 large scallops would be fine. Accompany with a nice chilled glass of white wine or a flute of champagne and raise a glass to the Queen.

Seared Sea Scallops with Mint & Pea Puree
Adapted slightly from The Lazy Gourmet – Magnificent Meals Made Easy by Robin Donovan & Juliana Gallin – serves 4 to 5

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 medium shallot, peeled & minced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
¾ cup fish, chicken or vegetable broth
2 cups (about 10 ounces) frozen green peas
¼ cup lightly packed fresh mint leaves, plus more, julienned for garnish
½ cup sour cream (quality low fat sour cream works great)
¼ to ½ teaspoon wasabi paste
¼ teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning scallops
¼ to ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (juice of about 1 large lemon)
16 large dry packed sea scallops (about 1 ½ pounds), rinsed & patted dry

In a medium saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the shallot and garlic and sauté until the shallot is soft and translucent, about 3 minutes, taking care not to burn either of them. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Add peas and return to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until peas are tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in mint, sour cream, wasabi paste, sugar, salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Using an immersion blender (or in batches in a countertop blender or food processor), puree the sauce until smooth. Taste and add additional salt and pepper if needed. Set aside while you sear the scallops. At this point if you wish, the puree can be made a couple of days ahead and stored, covered, in the refrigerator. Reheat in a saucepan before serving.

In a large, heavy skillet, heat remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot but not smoking, place the scallops in the pan, making sure they are not touching each other. You may have to sear the scallops in batches. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, without moving them around, until the bottoms form a crisp, caramel-colored crust. Turn and cook the other side the same way. (Cook’s note: Do not turn the scallops until they release from the pan or they will leave their nice sear behind.) Scallops are done when they feel springy, but not overly firm to the touch. Do not overcook or they will be dry and tough.

Reheat the pea puree in a saucepan over medium-low heat and add a touch more broth or water if it is too thick. Spoon onto four serving plates and arrange the scallops on top. Sprinkle with a little julienned mint or slivered green onion tops.


  1. Looks divine. I love the idea of minted peas with the scallops. I agree, they are a very special, delicious dish for guests. My fish monger told me yesterday that the slightly more blush color of some scallops means they are the female and even more sweet. Nice to know.

  2. Oh, marvelous! That is a combination I love. Perfect.



  3. I've probably mentioned before that the best scallops I've ever tasted were prepared by our son. Sometime later, I asked how he had prepared them and he said their goodness wasn't so much in the preparation but in the fact that they had been pulled from the sea only hours before they wound up in the pan. Of course, that's easy to do if you are in New Bedford, Mass.!! I do believe that I'll go with your recipe next time. It looks and sounds delicious.


  4. They look and sound wonderful. I have been looking for an elegant appetizer and this sounds perfect.

  5. That does sound like a heavenly recipe. They do look regal sitting on a pea purée. I buy mine flash frozen and found out like you say not to overcook them.

  6. Oh, Sam, what a beautiful dish. This is a meal suited for royalty. Thanks for the tip about which scallops to buy. You got such a beautiful sear on yours.

  7. How your friends must delight in your cooking! That looks positively delish.

  8. This looks delicious! I'll have to try this! Thanks for sharing.

  9. This screams Spring to me because of the mint and pea puree. What a lovely dish to set before guests.

  10. I'm making this for a special dinner, we love this combination of flavors. Your sea scallops look perfectly cooked;-)

  11. What a stunning dish! The sauce alone is already very tasty (bet it would be great with some wholewheat pasta), not to mention those king size scallops! Wonderful!

  12. Your scallops look perfectly seared, Sam. I love the idea of serving them ina mint pea puree. This is a perfect meal for a Spring time!

  13. Sam, your scallops look beautiful. I love the mint and pea puree with the wasabi. I love wasabi peas and this reminds me of how delicious the two flavors go together. I just made scallops with an orange ponzu sauce, next it will be yours.

  14. Aw heck Sam, why don't you just move in with us??



  15. Sam these look perfect and thanks for the tips. I never cared for shrimp, but love scallops, so in many recipes I use scallops instead of shrimp. I am loving this receps and Maranda is even into scallops now.

    Have a great weekend! The weather is still perfect.

  16. I have dubbed sea scallops as the filet mignon of the sea. I love them! Your trips are great, and I'd say that you got a perfect sear. Great recipe!

  17. There is nothing better than really good scallops prepared perfectly. Yours hit the mark in every way! How beautiful they look and I love the pea puree. So perfect for spring.

  18. These really do look fit for a queen. I adore scallops. I can still remember the best I ever tasted. I was vacationing on the coast of Maine and one of my parents fisherman friends showed up with a freshly caught and shucked container of the just for us. We simply seared them. They were so sweet and succulent.

  19. Sam, Scallops are one of my very favorite. You have browned them to perfection. Great advice about finding the right scallop!

  20. Love this recipe, Sam. Perfect for spring.

  21. Hello Sam,
    It is almost lunch time here and those Scallops are calling me, they look delicious. I love your Pea and Mint Puree this is a great combination for the Scallops.

    Hope you have a great week end and thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday.
    Come Back Soon!
    Miz Helen

  22. Your scallops look perfectly cooked and the puree is really pretty but I'd have to try it at your house before I made it - I think it's the mint that I shy away from.

  23. These scallops look extraordinary, styling and quality!!! Just beautiful~

  24. Hi Sam, as you know I love dry scallops, I always have some on hand. I frequent a fish market right on the ocean every time we're in Maine and I always buy about 2 lbs. on each trip and freeze them!

    Your dish looks divine, and one that I will certainly try! I love the brightness of the green against the caramelized scallops!

    Your advice about seeking out the dry vs. buying the brined (wet) scallops is spot on! The aftertaste from the wet scallops in my opinion is nasty!

    I actually commented on "dry vs. wet" scallops a few weeks ago when I posted my scallop dish! And another thing. When you buy the wet scallops you're paying extra for the brine, which cooks out and makes it near impossible to pan-sear the scallops!

    Have a wonderful weekend!


  25. You also end up paying "more for less" for wet scallops since they have been pumped full of TSP for extra weight (and that aftertaste you mentioned).

    This plate looks exceptional with the bright colors and perfectly seared scallops!

  26. We just had scallops last night with pistachio, parsley pesto. Will be blogging about the recipe soon. You are right about not overcooking them. I cooked them for 3 minutes per side and they were perfect. Love the mint, pea puree.

  27. Just looking at those photos makes my mouth water. Yum yum Diane

  28. I first discovered a pea and mint puree recipe in Sophie Dahl's book. The British love it and I've had it over there. I think it's manna from heaven.
    Placing those perfect scallops on top is divine, Sam.

  29. that mint and pea puree is simply heavenly. I love it. Both flavors are so refreshing and go so well with seafood!

  30. Greetings, Sam. I came by to say hello and tell you I've missed you. Work has me so busy that I haven't had much time for fun.

    And, I chosen the perfect time to visit because I love scallops. I'll be trying the puree. It sounds delicious and it looks good, too.

  31. Scallops adrift in a pea-green sea! what an enticing presentation!

  32. I made this same dish yesterday! Not your recipe but yours is a keeper too! :)

    Your scallops look so succulent & this is surely a pretty dish!

  33. The mint pea base is an interesting combination of flavors. I imagine that it's soft textures is a nice contrast to the sweet meaty and tender scallops.

  34. Perfect meal for me! I so love this!

  35. Very nice!!!! Congrats from France :)

  36. Sam, just lovely. Love the idea of the pea puree too. Thanks for helping to get the new collection off to a good start. Cheers


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