“Reduction” may sound like a complicated technique, but in other words, its tangerine sauce. Tangerine juice is put in a small saucepan and heated slowly, on a low fire, until only a few tablespoons of juice is left and it gets syrupy. The flavor is concentrated, and sweeter than pure juice, perfectly for drizzling over scallops or salad.
And then there are seared scallops. What is the chef’s secret to getting perfectly seared scallops, ones that aren’t rubbery either?
The answer: A screaming hot pan, and dry scallops.
Most say scallops should be done in a cast-iron pan, but a good non-stick frying pan will do the job just fine. A little butter is used, and the French secret I need to share with you, is beurre noissette, or brown butter. Starting with a regular good butter, the tab of butter is placed into the frying pan and heated until it is brown and fragrant of hazelnuts, “noissette” meaning hazelnut in French. It is one of the loveliest smells of French cooking. And you are thinking, where does butter belong in healthy cooking, but the truth is, you only really need half a tablespoon of butter for 8-10 scallops in a nonstick pan. It is the flavor and the aroma we are going for, not the fat. The best thing is that scallops are one of the leanest proteins you can have and contain many beneficial nutrients like vitamin B12.
On a bed of fresh spinach with roasted green beans, fresh tangerine, and a little crisp turkey bacon, the meal is not only low in fat, but packed with flavor. The sweetness of the tangerine reduction, saltiness of the crisp bacon, and burst of freshness in the tangerines make a guest-worthy dish.
Ingredients (for 2)
2-3 cups fresh baby spinach
12 oz. fresh jumbo sea scallops (about 8-10)
1 lb. green beans, trimmed and cleaned
1/8 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
1/2 gallon tangerine juice
2 slices turkey bacon
1/2 Tablespoon butter
1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. On a greased baking tray, place the green beans and toss with 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Place in the oven for about 20 minutes or slightly shriveled and golden brown. Toss once during cooking.
2. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, place the tangerine juice over very low heat. Keep an eye on it, and let reduce to a quarter or until syrupy. Set aside to cool once cooked. This may take 20-30 minutes.
3. Cook the bacon in a small frying pan until crisp. Then, set aside on paper towels to drain off any grease.
4. Build the salad by placing the baby spinach on the plate, crumbled bacon, peeled and segmented tangerine slices, and cooled and sliced green beans.
5. To sear the scallops, clean out the frying pan that you cooked the bacon in. Dry your scallops by blotting with a paper towel. Sprinkle with some cracked pepper. In the pan, place 1/4 Tablespoon of the butter and let heat until the butter turns a golden brown and just becomes fragrant of a sweet smell. Place half of the scallops gently into the pan, seasoned side down, and don’t move them for 2-3 minutes. Once they are golden brown, turn them and cook another 2-3 minutes, or until fairly firm. Then, set cooked scallops aside, and cook the other half with the remaining butter. Serve the scallops on the salad and drizzle with some of the tangerine reduction.