Sunday, September 28, 2008

Test Kitchen: Florida Dreaming

Last night I was watching the Seminoles/Buffs game, and wondering what to do with the key limes I had in my fridge. I decided a Florida-inspired meal was in order, partially to celebrate the Gator's earlier upset loss to Ole Miss, and partially to mentally escape the currently drab Northeast weather. I ran over to consult my fish guys at Joon's on 98th and Amsterdam, and after a quick stop at the market I returned with some golf ball-sized scallops and Florida tangerines.

As it always is with my culinary experiments, I have a vision in my head but I'm not quite confident about the end result until I try it. To my delight, my citrus-scallop dinner was a touchdown. I'm excited to share the recipe below. On the other hand, I tried doing a key lime-ginger soufflé thing that was an absolute disaster. I think I was on the right track, but the recipe requires some tweaking. Also, I must have accidentally gotten some egg yolk in with the egg whites, because I was not able to whisk them to the right consistency. Even the smallest amount of yolk will hinder those heavenly stiff peaks. As a result, my fumbled creation fell flat. I'll work on it and get back to you. Meanwhile, try the citrus-scallop dish. It was ridiculously easy and fast, and the taste was wonderful. The cayenne effect was not a burn, but rather a pleasant tingle that my mouth enjoyed after I had devoured the dish.

for citrus-scallops on skinny green beans (for 2):
  • 6 jumbo fresh scallops
  • 2 tangerines
  • 1 big handful of skinny (or "French") green beans
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
  • Several dashes of cayenne
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Juice one of the tangerines, and soak the scallops in the juice, covered and refrigerated, for about 30 min. In one skillet, coat the bottom with olive oil and heat to medium. Toss the green beans with salt and pepper in the skillet and cook until tender but still crisp, about 5 minutes. Turn off heat and toss with most of the fresh cilantro, reserving a little cilantro for final garnish. In another skillet, coat the bottom with olive oil and heat to med-high. Two points: too much olive oil will splatter, so make sure it is just a thin coat, and the skillet should not be non-stick, so the scallops will properly sear. Season each side of the scallops with salt and a sprinkle of cayenne and sear on the med-high heat until brown, about 1-2 minutes per side. Be careful not to overcook, or they will become tough and chewy.

Peel and dice the other tangerine, and arrange the green beans on a plate to form a nest for the scallops. Place the scallops in the middle and garnish with tangerine pieces and the remaining cilantro. Serve right away, and pretend you're on vacation.

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