Scallops are, it has been said, like the fillet Mignon of the sea. Large, succulent sea scallops, lightly coated with flour, salt, and pepper... pan sauteed in butter... there's little better.
Good quality sea scallops, not previously frozen and pumped full of liquid to fluff them out, are oftentimes priced as high as a good fillet, too. Three or four of them can cost you probably between $20 and $25 a pound, depending on where you purchase them. It's often more economical to buy the little bay scallops, but they're so often ruined by people trying to "dress them up." Cheese, sauces, tossing them in pasta... anything to cover up the fact that sometimes they can be chewy... when overcooked.
That's the danger with bay scallops. They're easy to overcook. Luckily, frying - when done correctly - can prevent this from happening. Sure, you can panko crust and bake these little guys, but that's healthy and not fun. Panko can get smushy in the oven, and scallops hold liquid.
Panko crusting and frying... that's the ticket. They still hold liquid (and therefore a hell of a lot of heat), but they're crunchy little balls of awesome. With a spicy and sweet duck sauce, they're the perfect snack for a hockey gathering. With some steamed rice and fish sauce and some stir-fried veggies, they're the perfect dinner.
Even better - if you don't like scallops, do it with shrimp! It's just as awesome.
Panko Crusted Scallops
1 lb bay scallops
1 egg, beaten with a little milk (a couple of teaspoons or so)
1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon paprika
1/4th teaspoon chopped thyme, oregano, or any other fresh spice that you enjoy
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Mix seasonings with egg and milk mix. Put flour on one paper plate and Panko on another. Dry the scallops well witha paper towel - wet scallops not only splatter, but they don't hold the breading. Dip the scallops into the flour mix first, then into egg mix and finally into the Panko crumbs.
Let them set up a bit in the fridge for half an hour, covered with some plastic wrap. While it's setting up, get the oil ready. In a small dutch oven, heat half of a container of vegetable oil to 350 degrees. When the surface shimmers, and when you drop a breadcrumb in and it fries ASAP, it's ready. Try to get it warmed and at 350 for a few minutes to better ensure the temperature not dropping when you plunk in the scallops.
Try to do half a handful at a time. They tend to clump, so be careful. Fry them for maybe 3 minutes, eyeballing them to make sure that they're golden brown. Take them out, drain on a towel, wait a bit, and chow down.
You can serve these with store bought duck sauce, or if you want to try your hand at making some, this recipe from AllRecipes.com is pretty bangin:
- 5 cups coarsely chopped mixed fruit (apples, plums, and pears)
- 1 cup water
- 3/4 cup apple juice
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon apricot preserves
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
- Place fruit in a stock pot over medium high heat. Add water, apple juice, soy sauce, apricot preserves, brown sugar, garlic powder, and dry mustard. Bring to a simmer, stirring frequently to dissolve brown sugar. Reduce heat, and continue simmering for 40 minutes, or until fruit is completely soft. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- Blend sauce in a food processor or blender until completely smooth, adjusting consistency with additional water, if desired. Cover, and refrigerate until ready to use.
Pictured is the final product if shrimp are used - they were just as awesome as they looked: