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Snapper and Seared Scallops Antiboise

July 26, 2016

JULY 24th, 2016 — Searing scallops should not be that intimidating. Maybe the more how-to videos and blog posts you see online, the more you’d think that seared scallops are easy to screw up. But this was the first time I prepared scallops, and they’re not that difficult to pull off. Also, seared scallops are an amazing thing, another illustration of the dialectic of raw and cooked, alongside the contributions of medium-rare steak and seared ahi tuna. Why don’t Chinese recipes call for scallops to be treated as such?

So I perused scallop dishes from various sources (chefs, restaurants) and stumbled upon sauce antiboise, originating from the town of Antibes, in Southern France. It’s a bit more like a ragout, since not everything is blended or slow-cooked for a historical amount of time.

Snapper Antiboise (1)So what did you do?
I first prepared the sauce antiboise. As previously mentioned, because this isn’t a sauce that is blended, or stewed for very long, you do want to dice your vegetables pretty finely, as if they were going into fried rice, for example. I diced:

  • 2 large roma tomatoes and ~1 1/2 cups red cherry tomatoes
  • 1 sweet onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 cup kalamata olives (recipes you might find will call for black, but I prefer the tart taste of kalamatas)
  • 2 small green peppers (not traditional, but I had these and needed to get rid of them somewhere)

For protein, I decided to diversify the portfolio a bit and provide a back-up to my first-time scallops, and got a nice red snapper, decapitated and gutted at the counter of a Ranch 99.

I sliced into the fish on both sides so as to make deep, gill-like pockets that would hold salt and pepper. I also rubbed salt and pepper in the middle of the fish where the guts had been. I drizzled the outside of the fish with olive oil.

I baked him at 300 degrees for about 25-30 minutes. At the 20-25 minute mark, I poked it with a fork to check, and seeing that some of the flesh still was a bit like a solid blob, and not flaky, I let it bake for another 5-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, I defrosted 7 scallops, and pat them dry with a paper towel. Rule #1 to seared scallops is to get as moisture out as you can before searing because water will negatively affect the crispy factor. I seasoned both sides with salt and pepper.

To sear, cover a frying pan with olive oil and bring to a high heat. Lay each scallop down, and let sear for 60-90 seconds. You’re apparently not supposed to dare to touch them or interrupt them, but a nudge won’t ruin anything. You can see if the edges start to brown that it might be time to grab your tongs and flip them over to the next sides and sear those for another 60-90 seconds. Remove them from the pan when they’re done.

Now to cook the sauce. A tip from a scallops antiboise recipe I found from Bart van Olphen is to wipe down this same frying pan, but not wash it. This cleans it just enough but leaves remnants of oil with scallop flavor. Then I poured in all of the diced veggies, stirring constantly, and adding in about 3-4 tbsp of balsamic vinegar. My vinegar is on the sweeter side, so if yours isn’t, you might fancy adding a drizzle of honey at this point.

Snapper Antiboise (2)When the veggies of the sauce antiboise were nice and soft, I plated the snapper first, with the scallops around them, and then spooned the sauce around and drizzled the sauce’s liquid on top. I then topped with capers and more black pepper.

Lessons learned?
You should defrost scallops overnight. If you don’t, and are pressed for time, you can microwave them for 30 seconds at a time, slowly, but I think this is maybe what contributed to the slight stringiness of my scallops, which isn’t awful.

Sauce antiboise is reminiscent of bruschetta. I’m most certainly going to use the leftover sauce to top bread or polenta, that’s for damn sure.


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