I had just returned from the market, ingredients in hand and excited to make the assigned French Friday recipe using sea scallops for this week when I received the text, Brett has abalone he wants to give you…Brett is a buddy of my son Taylor and he dives for abalone off the Sonoma/Mendocino coast. We had spoken before about abalone as I had expressed an interest in creating a recipe using his abalone. The last time we enjoyed fresh abalone was a few years ago when the boys were in high school and Brett’s father graciously shared abalone steaks with us. In Northern California sport harvesting of red abalone is allowed with a California fishing license and an abalone stamp card. Black, white, pink and flat abalone are endangered and protected by law. Abalone may not be taken south of the San Francisco Bay and there are size requirements that are strictly monitored as well as the catch amount. The largest red abalone taken off the Northern California coast on record was 12.34 inches in Humboldt County in 1993. The average size is around 8 inches in Point Arena, which produces the largest wild harvested abalone. There is also a farmed supply of abalone in the Monterey Bay which can be shipped live overnight anywhere in the US. I’ve never tried farmed abalone so I can’t compare them to Brett’s catch! The buttery delicate ocean flavor of the highly coveted wild abalone steaks is enhanced by using a quick cooking method. After seasoning the steaks they just need a quick pan fry in hot drizzled olive oil, butter or a mixture of the two. When the abalone steaks hit the hot oil, you will see them slightly puff up and it’s time to flip to the next side. I kept my cooked abalone steaks, sea scallops and grilled nectarines covered on the stove as I quickly put together my plates. For dinner, I decided to offer a choice of either sea scallops or abalone with a generous spoonful of the corn salad and several nectarine slices on each plate. After a quick drizzle of the lime dressing and basil coulis the plates were ready to serve. But, then it’s time to take pictures and everyone was ready to eat, oh!- the sacrifices that are made for the blog! My photos are what I call speed or power photography, still hope you enjoy and please check out the links to French Fridays with Dorie for all the variations on warm sea scallops with corn, grilled nectarines and basil coulis this week.
Adapted from Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan.
- For The Salad
- 1 lb sea scallops, about 6- 8 larger size
- 4 abalone steaks, pounded to tenderize
- 3 ears corn, husks removed and steamed for 3-5 minutes, kernels cut from the cobs
- 1 large Italian sweet pepper, chopped
- 3 tablespoons minced chives
- 2 ripe but firm nectarines, cut into 8 slices each
- extra virgin olive oil to coat pan for abalone and for brushing on sea scallops
- Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
- For The Lime Dressing
- 1 small shallot, finely chopped
- 1 lime, juiced
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Pinch of sea salt
- Pinch of piment d'Espelette
- For The Basil Coulis
- 1 cup assorted sweet basil leaves
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Pinch of salt
- To Make the Lime Dressing
- Place all the ingredients for the dressing in a small jar, cover and shake to blend or whisk everything together in a small bowl, cover and keep in the refrigerator until time to serve.
- To Make the Basil Coulis
- Blanch the basil in boiling water for 30 seconds and place in a bowl of ice water, chill for a few minutes and remove.
- Place the basil, oil and pinch of salt in a blender or food processor, puree to blend and set aside.
- To Make the Salad
- Preheat a lightly oiled grill pan for the scallops, if you're grilling them. If you're cooking them in a pan, heat the pan, a cast iron pan would be good, add just enough oil so the scallops don't stick.
- Grill the nectarines, placing the cut sides down on the grill pan, cook for about 1 minute on each side, set aside and cover to keep warm.
- Season the scallops with salt and pepper before grilling for about 1 & 1/2 minutes on each side, they should be firm with grill marks on both sides, keep warm.
- Season the abalone with salt and pepper before pan frying in a heavy pan drizzled with olive oil.
- Abalone steaks should be quickly cooked (not more than 30 seconds) on each side using a medium high heat, remove from pan and keep warm.
- To serve, place the corn, peppers and chives in a medium bowl with enough lime dressing to moisten the corn kernels, check for seasoning.
- Place an abalone steak or sea scallops on each plate, add the corn salad, grilled nectarine slices and drizzle lime dressing on top of the sea scallops or abalone steaks.
- Spoon the basil coulis on top and serve.
3 kinds of sweet basil from my garden