Archive for May, 2014

Moroccan Sea Scallops

May 12, 2014

Like a lot of home cooks, I tend to get stuck in ruts, preparing the same comfortable recipes in regular rotation. Sure, I have a collection of more adventurous dishes I’m dying to try, but on most weeknights, I find myself falling back on my favorite quick and delicious chicken stew, lemon pasta, or taco salad.

I was particularly excited, then, to attend my first cooking class at The Pantry at Delancey recently. Chef Kim Cozzetto Maynard guided us through a delectable and inspiring menu of modern Moroccan dishes that successfully combine North African flavors with French cooking techniques, a legacy of Morocco’s colonial history.

The complete meal, re-created at home. If I can do it, you can too!

The complete meal, re-created at home. If I can do it, you can too!

While the menu we prepared – which included a spicy, salty and sweet roasted beet salad with marinated feta and honey pistachio dressing, rich chicken tagine with green olives and preserved lemon, and rose-scented ricotta phyllo hand pies – ideally lends itself to a leisurely day of cooking topped off by an intimate dinner party, one dish in particular struck me as a potential addition to my weeknight repertoire: ras-al-hanout dusted sea scallops with carrot broth.

This tasty dish utilizes Morocco’s famed spice mix and a new take on a classic emulsified beurre blanc sauce to add pizzazz to seared scallops on a bed of wilted spinach. After Chef Kim walked us through the process of preparing the scallops as an appetizer course, I was pretty sure I could make it at home on a Monday night, with the addition of couscous and a few more scallops per serving to turn it into it a complete meal.

While carrot juice, chopped shallot, and vermouth reduced on the stove, I quickly cooked up the couscous (using chicken broth and a bit of orange zest for added flavor) and wilted spinach.

The finished product

The finished product

Next, I dredged eight good-sized scallops in ras-al-hanout. This blend literally translates as “head of the shop” and is traditionally a varying mixture of the best spices on offer, so every cook’s version will vary. Commonly used ingredients include cardamom, clove, cinnamon, ground chilis, coriander, cumin, paprika, and turmeric. On this night, I picked up a couple of ounces of pre-blended ras-al-hanout from World Spice (some of the more adventurous grocery store spice sections around Seattle also carry commercial versions). Then I seared the scallops for about 3 minutes on each side, careful not to burn the spice crust.

At this point, the sauce was reduced and ready for the addition of butter, which turned a tasty broth into a velvety and rich sauce. Finally, I plated the scallops on top of the spinach over the couscous base, drizzled liberally with the sauce, and – voila! – a colorful, balanced and flavorful dinner that paired quite nicely with a bottle of Stella Blanca Sauvignon Blanc from Walla Walla’s Northstar Winery. Total preparation time: 45 minutes.

Upcoming class schedules for The Pantry at Delancy can be found online here.

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