Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Seared Scallops with an Asian Cucumber Salad

Living in the Boston area, I'm surrounded by fresh, local meats, eggs, fruits, veggies and seafood. Every Wednesday, a local fishhouse, Jordan Brother's Seafood, sets up at Allandale Farm and sells fish and shellfish that was caught just hours earlier. This past week, I got a pound of local sea scallops, caught in Provincetown, Ma, for 20$. That is a fair, competitive price considering 1) how fresh the scallops were and 2) how little the scallops had to travel from sea to plate. I am quite lucky to live where I do!
It's also smack dab in the middle of CSA season and the pick up each week is getting bigger and bigger. I got some great looking pickling cukes from Stillman's Farm, so I decided to make an Asian cucumber salad to accompany the scallops.
To prepare the scallops, first off, clean them by removing the little muscle off the side of the scallop. It will pull right off. You don't have to remove the muscle, but it's extremely chewy and not appetizing. Make sure your scallops are dry, season with salt and pepper and then sear off over medium-high heat in your fat of choice (I used coconut oil). Do not crowd the pan!! If there are too many scallops in the pan at one time, the temperature of the pan will drop and the scallops will not sear off, but will end up steaming. Flip scallops after a few minutes of cooking; they should be golden brown.
Repeat the cooking process until all of the scallops are done and reserve until ready to serve.

Typical Asian cucumber salad is usually loaded with sugar and rice vinegar. I went a different route, keeping it Paleo and used lemon and lime juice and a small bit of coconut nectar to sweeten. To flavor the salad, I used shallots, Red Boat Fish sauce, coconut aminos and cilantro. The key to the salad is to slice both the cukes and shallots nice and thin.
The acid of the lemon and lime juice will "cook" the cucumbers and shallots, softening them up and infusing them with flavor. The salad is best prepared a few hours prior to serving and is best served chilled.

Asian Cucumber Salad
3 pickling cucumbers, sliced thin
1 small shallot, sliced thin
3 TBS cilantro, chopped
1/3 cup mixed fresh squeezed lemon and lime juice
1/4 cup water
1 TBS fish sauce (I use Red Boat)
1 TBS coconut nectar (if you don't have coconut nectar, use honey or agave syrup)
1 tsp coconut aminos

1. In a medium bowl, mix the juices, water, fish sauce, coconut nectar and coconut aminos until well combined.
2. Add in cucumbers, shallots and cilantro; mix to combine and allow to sit for a couple hours before serving, stirring occasionally.


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