Monday, May 26, 2008

Curried scallops with acorn squash

I am impressed by the simplicity of most scallops you find in nice restaurants. They're caramelized, sautéed in some subtle reduction, and served. Even more simple is scallop sushi, the deliciousness of which proves once and for all that scallops were doing just fine as a food even before our species carved its first spear. This meal, partly inspired by the perfect scallops we ate at Little Giant a few nights ago, was an attempt to see what happens when one does seriously spice their scallops, and it proved to be an extremely easy way to prepare an impressive looking (and tasting) fleshed-out full-plate entrée.

To be honest, this is the first dish I have made that I would be thrilled to receive at a nice restaurant. The curry sauce adds spice to the scallops and squash without overwhelming their natural flavor, and, if you brown the squash just right, all the colors become perfectly matched.

adapted from epicurious

1 large (1 1/2- to 2-lb) acorn squash
2 tsp butter
3/4 lb sea scallops
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 1/2 tablespoons minced seeded jalapeño chile
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1/4 cup water
3 tsp garam masala powder
3/4 cup coconut milk

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. Halve acorn squash, and remove seeds.
3. Rub each half of the squash, including the cavity, with salted butter. Place face down on a baking sheet and put in oven.
4. After squash has been roasting 30 minutes, pat scallops dry and season with salt. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 10-inch nonstick skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then brown scallops on both sides, 4 to 6 minutes total (scallops will be almost cooked through). Remove from heat. Add turmeric and toss until scallops are yellow, then transfer to a bowl.
5. Cook jalapeño, garlic, ginger, and 1 tablespoon lime juice in remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil in skillet over moderately high heat, stirring, 1 minute. Add water and simmer until water is evaporated and chile mixture is softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add coconut milk and garam masala and simmer 2 minutes. Remove from heat and cover.
6. When squash is tender, add remaining 2 teaspoons lime juice and scallops with any liquid that has accumulated in bowl to sauce and simmer until scallops are just cooked through and sauce is slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.
7. Remove from heat, and spoon scallops and sauce onto squash.


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