Thursday, August 15, 2013

Corn & Peppers with Sea Scallops– plus an easy way to make perfect rice & tips to selecting corn

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.

My mother's perfect rice printable recipe

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.

Have a great weekend everyone.


  1. That sounds like a keeper!!! Thanks.

  2. I am definitely in Sam. Corn is overflowing at the markets and I must say this is my favourite time of the year!! When I pick corn I feel the tip to see if it is full, if so the corn is fully developed and not picked too early. The same method tells me if the kernels will be too over ripe and large.

  3. This dish is incredibly tempting and bursting with flavors as well as colors!



  4. I have that paprika..the same:)

    I love how this dish adds bursts of color to one of my fave foods..sea scallops..your look cooked perfectly.
    It's so funny how we all have our "Perfect Rice" method..and sometimes you pass it along and it doesn't work for others!
    My mom used Uncle Ben's also:)
    Beautiful dish.

  5. I love the flavours! Those scallops are so succulent and tender! You are really good in preparing the seafood.

  6. Bet that is yummy, scallops are so expensive here though :-(( Have a good day. Diane

  7. Love your corn and peppers...they make a nice accompaniment to your seared scallops.

  8. What a beautiful dish, Sam. I will admit though, I have never bought or eaten Uncle Ben's converted rice. I have not had any problems with regular rice cooked in salted water until dry. Takes about 15 minutes.

  9. I love the idea of seasoning scallops with smoked paprika, Sam! That sounds wonderful. When I buy fresh corn I never buy the biggest, plumpest ears. I prefer corn that is slightly younger which I find tastier so I look for the more slender ears. I love everything about this recipe~

  10. Our younger son, who has a degree in food science, works for N.O.A.A.. One of his main jobs is to inspect scallops. Through him we know that dry pack is the very best but sometimes hard to find. A few year's ago, while visiting him in R.I., he prepared scallops for us. They were the best I've ever tasted. When I asked for his secret, he said: You've got to meet the boat! Since those boats don't come anywhere near Chicago, it's a bit hard to find them. We are fortunate to have friends who grow corn and soybeans and they have a small "sweet corn" garden. We get very fresh corn. This recipe sounds delicious and I've put it in my "file".


  11. Sounds like a very healthy dinner Sam! I had smoked paprika in a can for years and didn't do much with it, once I tossed it I see recipes everywhere! Isn't that the way... Have a great weekend:@)

  12. Your recipe looks very good. I wonder what I could use instead of corn. You know, having been brought up in France where corn is usually only fed to animal, I never ate it until I came to this country and never got to liking it much. As for rice, at home my father used to cook it. He did not cook much but he wanted his rice the Armenian way, so he cooked it. He placed a tablespoon of olive oil and some butter in a large frying pan and placed the dry rice on it on medium heat. He kept stirring the rice until it was opaque, then he would pour the hot water, or chicken broth, on it, let it boil for just a few seconds, then cover it and let it cook on very low for 20 minutes. It was always perfect. Sometimes he placed pine nuts with the rice. He cooked this every week – a large quantity so he could eat some everyday.

    1. Vagabonde, the scallops are the big star in this recipe, so if I didn't care for corn, I would concentrate on them. Perhaps serve them with garlic mashed potatoes. Just be sure to try to find the dry packed ones. It's very hard to get a nice sear on the others.

      BTW, David Lebovitz's recent post was on corn cakes and how hard it is to find corn in France because the French don't eat corn for the very same reason you mentioned. Even though you don't care for corn, you might enjoy his charming story about as an American, his desperate search for fresh corn in France. Link:

  13. looks so good and great tips on buying corn

  14. I could lick the screen! This is so so delicious! Thanks for sharing the rice cooking method. I'm sure going to give this a try!!!! YUMMY!

  15. This sounds wonderful, Sam. Bob and I both love scallops and have them often. We'll give your recipe a try and let you know how it goes. Have a wonderful weekend. Blessings...Mary

  16. The dish sounds great and a magnificent presentation.

  17. I already have corn on my market shopping list this morning. What a beautiful dish, Sam, and so colorful too. Scallops are a favorite around here. Have a great weekend.

  18. I pinned, tweeted and G+ this recipe. I love cooking scallops as long as you dry them well they are so easy to make and this dish just pops with gorgeous summer colors... absolutely this will show off fresh corn. Love the smoky paprika too. Thanks again for sharing yet another fantastic recipe with us on foodie friday.

  19. I love everything about this. I'm such a smoked paprika fan. I can eat fresh corn faster than a raccoon and adore scallops. This is a must make. And please don't get me started about people who tear back that husks to inspect the corn before purchasing. It's incredibly annoying. Last week our corn vendor hollered at someone to stop and explained he'd have to throw that ear away since the peeled it back and put back on the pile. Not to mention I didn't see anything wrong with the ear of corn he didn't take. Plus they clog up the line.... see, you got me started. :)

  20. This is beautiful. Scallops is almost the only seafood I enjoy ( I know, so sad for me) Fresh diver scallops are the way to go! The colors, flavors and the textures in this dish are wonderful.


  21. Even though I can't eat shellfish, I know that most of my family really enjoy scallops! They do look delicious Sam. Thank you for sharing your mother's proven method for preparing rice which I'll use as well!


  22. Sam (and Meakin, too) this looks absolutely Fabulous! I just bought scallops I got the wrong kind. :/
    However, I shall try fixing them this way just as soon as I get out for some fresh Ohio sweet corn. We've had a bumper crop this year, I've been told. Must be all that rain!!

    Thanks for sharing the recipe & those gorgeous mouth watering photos!!

  23. Wow that is colorful. I could scooping this into warm tortillias for seafood tacos.

  24. Dear Sam, What a beautiful dish.
    Thank you for the tip on cooking rice and sharing your mother's recipe. The corn has been so sweet this year. Thank you for the extra tip.
    Have a beautiful week. Blessings, Catherine

  25. I have been enjoying very sweet locally grown Colorado corn this summer, Sam! I have to admit I pull back on the husk to peek at the kernels before i buy. I like to see them large and plump. I never tried cooking rice that way but I'll try it as the low boiling point in this high altitude means we have to use extra water when cooking rice or quinoa.

    I love scallops but they are very expensive here or sold frozen which I dislike! The best fish I've found locally is freshly caught trout or wild Pacific salmon. I miss fresh shellfish dearly...sigh.

  26. Belated Birthday wished Sam, hope you had a fantastic day. Hope you have a great week Diane

  27. Hi Sam,
    Your plate has a great combination with the Corn, Peppers and those wonderful Sea Scallops. This is a lovely presentation and so full of flavor, we are sure to enjoy this meal!

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

  28. Oh, Sam. I want some right this minute. It looks delicious.

  29. So simple! I love it! Scallops are so healthy too.

  30. Hi Sam,
    What a beautiful dish. I love this dish. I hope your fantastic day for this site. Thanks for so much sharing to this post. Thanks..

    Kitchens York


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