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it's always ourselves we find in the sea"
e. e. cummings (1894-1962), U.S. poet.

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Inspired by a dish I had once on vacation, I couldn't wait to get home and figure this out for myself. The combination of the earthy porcini and the succulent sweetness of the sea scallops is great. Of course, Beurre blanc makes anything better.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes, plus reduction time for the sauce    Serving Size: 2

The Beurre Blanc (start ahead of time)

  • 1 cup Sauvignon Blanc
  • 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 shallot, sliced thinly
  • sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper
  • 8 tablespoons cold butter, cubed

Combine the wine, vinegar, thyme, bay leaf and sliced shallot in a medium sauce pan. Reduce by half over medium heat, about 20 minutes. Strain the sauce and season well to taste with sea salt and fresh ground black pepper. Add back to the sauce pan and turn the heat down to medium low. Reduce again by just a third this time, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, keeping the pan on the stove and stir in the chilled cubes of butter, one at a time. This is called mounting the sauce. Keep warm.

The Scallops

  • 4-6 large sea scallops
  • 1/4 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1/8 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Combine the dried mushrooms, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder and salt and grind into a powder. I use a clean coffee grinder just for herbs and things like this. Note that it is not necessary to use all of this powder at one time. Store any remaining powder in an air tight container for up to a year.

Heat a medium sauté pan over medium high heat. While heating, remove abductor muscle from the scallops, if necessary, rinse and dry thoroughly. Sprinkle some of the powder on a small clean plate. Press both the top and bottom of the scallops into the powder. Add the olive oil to the hot pan. Carefully place each scallop in the hot oil and cook undisturbed for 2 minutes. Use a spatula to turn each scallop, being sure to leave in tact the crust that formed. Cook another 30 seconds to one minute. Remove to plates and serve with the Beurre blanc spooned around the scallops.

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