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PortWatch

August 7, 2013

Scallops star in a versatile, tangy salad

Scallops are the perfect summertime food — light, yet filling, flavorful, but also versatile enough to pair with all sorts of foods. In this case, with salad.

I call for sea scallops here, which are available all summer long. But make sure to confirm that the bivalves in question are “dry” scallops or “day boat” scallops. Both terms guarantee that the scallops were harvested and brought right to market. Too often, scallops are harvested at sea, shucked and tossed into a wet solution containing phosphates, where they sit for days before making it to market.

That solution preserves the scallops, but it also pumps them up with water. This means that you’re paying for that liquid when you buy them by weight, and that they’ll weep liquid and steam in the pan, instead of browning. This makes for a tough scallop, and you want them tender.

For this recipe, I dip the scallops in flour before they’re sauteed to give them a little crunch. If you can find Wondra flour at the supermarket, grab it on sight and keep it in the cupboard for recipes like this. A venerable brand, Wondra was the flour my grandmother Ruth used to thicken gravies. It is a low-protein flour that has been treated (precooked) so it dissolves instantly in water without lumping up. The side benefit of Wondra is that it provides a nice little crunch that you wouldn’t get if you coated your scallops with all-purpose flour.

This salad sports my version of the carrot-ginger dressing that’s standard at Japanese restaurants, which I’ve always found to be a delicious and refreshing change from oil and vinegar. As advertised, it’s based on raw carrot, then flavored with fresh ginger and toasted sesame oil. My version also features a little hot sauce. I don’t believe that’s in the classic version, but I like it as a way to counterbalance the natural sweetness of the carrot.

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