Great news, mollusk lovers. The revered Food section of The New York Times has deemed mussels, clams and scallops a wise eating choice to offset climate change. Throw in oysters, which are one of the great cleansing agents for natural bodies of water and I think we’ve got something.
I am a huge fan of sweet, plump sea scallops and I have previously offered a simple go-to recipe for that delectable treat. I think I have avoided messing with its baby sibling because normally when you see them, they are soft and squishy in a plastic package at the store, nearly dripping with slime water. The recommended buy for sea scallops is the “dry” variety, where no unnatural liquids are weighing them down. But until yesterday, I never noticed that bay scallops can be found dry, too.
I picked up just under a half pound for five bucks (at that price they are giving them away), and decided to test my Joe’s Shanghai salt & pepper squid treatment, cribbed from the super popular NY Chinatown eaterie. I included this recipe in a column for Inspirelle Paris and it made their Top 10 Posts of the Year list, which filled my home chef heart with joy (cue the Instagram happy & dee-lish emojis!).
The secret here is simple: corn starch! Mix equal parts flour and corn starch, just enough for your dredging operation, and the rest of this dish cooks itself. I juiced it up with jalapenos, green onions and Shitake mushrooms, but you can complement the tasty little buttons with anything from red pepper to pepper flakes to a quick sauté of bok choy.
You can have this dish on the table in under 15 minutes and serve it up with rice, salad or a packet of good ol’ pan-fried Ramen noodles.
Salt and Pepper Bay Scallops with Jalapeno
• 1/2 lb. dry Bay scallops (easy to find at any good fishmonger)
• 1/4 cup flour
• 1/4 cup corn starch
• 3 tbsp Kosher salt, 1 tbsp of ground pepper
• 2 large thinly sliced jalapenos
• 3 scallions cut into thin rounds
• 1/4 cup vegetable oil
1.) Mix flour, corn starch, salt and pepper in a wide low bowl.
2.) Dredge the scallops lightly in the mix, just enough to whiten them. Truly a dusting.
3.) Slice your jalapenos nice and thin. When you are about halfway through each pepper, just dig your knife blade in and twist to remove the seeds up by the stem.
4.) Chop the scallions into 1/4 inch or smaller rounds.
5.) Heat oil in a stick-free frying pan or wok to medium high.
6.) When hot, add the individual scallops by hand, leaving a little breathing room around each one. If necessary, you can do this in two rounds.
7.) IMPORTANT: Flip with a fork when getting a nice toasty tan hue and flip only once. Three minutes a side should do it.
8.) When the scallops are done, add a bit more oil if necessary. Dump in the jalapeno and scallion and flash sauté quickly.
9.) Add salt and pepper to taste, give it a few more shakes and plate away.