A Perfect Meal for Two
I love scallops. Those big, fat scallops, not the little cute ones that are the size of your thumbnail. They are also super good for you. And they do not have brains, or anything, and they do not care that you’re eating them. I mean, they have ganglia, or something, you can make your own ethical decisions. But they cost A DAMN FORTUNE in restaurants, and you get, like, two of them (see picture). Promise me you will never order scallops in a restaurant, it’s a mug’s game.
(Also, it is still expensive to buy scallops at the grocery store, so this is your romantic at-home dinner with someone you want to buy scallops for. Scallop-worthy is an even higher bar than sponge-worthy. The recipe is totally 88% as good if you make it with a bag of frozen scallops, which are cheaper. Take them out of the freezer and remove the packaging the night before, or they taste a little plastic-y. Put them in your fridge in a bowl with plastic wrap over top of the bowl, instead.)
Buy the exact number of scallops you want to eat. Four each? Eight in total. If you see a bit of yellow on one of your scallops, it’s just roe, leave it. Buy them the day you want to cook them.
Take ’em out of the fridge about half an hour before you cook them to get the chill off. Then wash them really, really well in water, because they get a little gritty. They feel all slippery and dense in your hands, it’s fun. Pat them dry, salt and pepper both sides.
(You are just going to make a green salad on the side with olive oil and vinegar. Do not get worked up about it, your person will only care about the scallops. Start drinking a glass of white wine now.)
Now, in a non-stick pan (or cast-iron, whatever) over medium-high heat, chunk in a couple of tablespoons of unsalted butter. Wait until it’s gone frothy and then stopped being frothy. It’s getting a little golden-y brown in there. Gently place the scallops in. They shouldn’t touch. If you’re only doing eight, you’ll have plenty of room in even a nine-inch skillet, I think. Set your timer for two and a half minutes.
Flip them right now! Quickly. Stare at the beautiful brown crusty side which is now on top. Oh, my God. Set your timer for another two and a half minutes.
Okay! Use a slotted spoon or spatula, set them aside with some foil over them. Now dump the rest of your glass of white wine in there, and turn the heat up to high. Scrape up the brown bits with a wooden spoon. Chunk in some more butter. A little more white wine. Keep stirring, let it cook itself down until it’s almost syrup-y. Then pour the pan sauce over the scallops, squeeze a lemon onto them, put the stupid green salad on the plate next to them, and serve. With more wine.
You will totally feel like a French person, because you’re all “here are the fruits of the sea, but with butter and a simple* green salad on the side,” like a class act.
Okay, go do it. You might still be a little hungry afterwards, because, get real, it’s a salad and four scallops, so have a ton of ice cream for dessert, or something. Tell me how it goes.
*Why are they always simple? And do you wash your pre-washed greens? I never do but my mother always does, and then there was an e-coli outbreak from pre-washed greens and I felt like a fool for doubting her.