Whose got plans this weekend? I'm gonna finish painting/distressing a trunk that I bought a month or so ago and organize some things - my life is the most disorganized it's ever been! Which isn't good and it's really strange for me because I have to have organization. I suppose living between two different zip codes will do that from time to time.
Switching gears - who watched the Top Chef finale this week? I'm guilty of having watched every season of Top Chef. I love it, what can I say!? I didn't get to watch the finale when it aired but I recorded it on my DVR and plopped down with a plate of food last night to watch it. I literally laughed out loud and said, "You've got to be kidding me" when Brooke and Kristin began to make their second dishes. Scallops. They had to use scallops in some form (pics of their dishes here). What was I eating at that very moment? Scallops. I'm sure you can see the irony. So I guess if I had been on Top Chef in Seattle, this is how I would have made my scallop dish (recipe at the bottom).
If you're not sure what you have planned for the weekend, how about trying your hand at this awesome dish? This could be served multiple ways - as a one bowl meal for you and your special someone, plated like I did as a centerpiece/appetizer/fancy meal-for-one, or as an amuse-bouche in a chinese serving spoon kinda like the ones here. No matter how you serve it, your peeps are gonna love it!
Also, let's talk scallops for a second. You need fresh ones. You're probably thinking, "Duh!" Sometimes it just has to be said though. I buy mine from seafood markets or Whole Foods depending upon the availability in my area (which is always, since I live so close to the ocean). By fresh, I mean never frozen and never injected. And by injected, I mean never filled with water or other foreign crud. You can ask before you purchase them and more than likely (depending upon where you're at), they will break things down for you about their product. Don't be afraid to ask! You're the paying customer, and no one wants to pay dolla-dolla bills for scallops, get home, and their dish not turn out.
Now to address the elephant in the room - squid ink pasta. You're probably thinking, "This girl is cray!" Well that's probably true, but let's be honest here - regular pasta just doesn't give you the color contrast or wow-factor that this pasta will. By all means, feel free to use a spinach or whole wheat pasta - it will achieve the same flavors, but c'mon - black pasta is pretty darn cool.
What is squid ink pasta? Squid ink pasta is just that - it's pasta that's colored with squid ink. It has the same flavor/texture as other pastas, it's just a little more unique! Where can you get it? Good 'ol Whole Foods. Not every Whole Foods has a pasta case, but many do. Not many will carry this type of pasta either, but if you're near the ocean it's a good possibility they will.
Pan Seared Scallops and Squid Ink Pasta with Peanut Sauce and Spicy Sesame Oil
What You'll Need
- Scallops - quantity will depend on who/what you're cooking for (I can eat 3 to 4 decent-size scallops and be a happy girl).
- Squid Ink Pasta - I used one sheet (linguine cut) and it produced seven amuse-bouche servings. You could probably get eight servings from one sheet if you're using serving spoons because they will need a little less pasta.
- Smoked Salt - not essential, but definitely adds to the flavor profile of this dish.
- White Sesame Seeds and Red Pepper Flakes
- Olive Oil - for searing the scallops - about 3 tbsp.
- 1/2 C Sesame Oil - I used toasted sesame oil because I wanted that deeper flavor, but you could easily sub non-toasted sesame oil if that's what you have on hand.
- 5-6 tbsp. Honey
- 3 tbsp. Soy Sauce
- 1-2 cloves Garlic, minced
- 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. Red Pepper Flakes
- 1/2 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
- 3 tsp. Peanut Butter (I used a good quality, crunchy peanut butter for added texture)
- 1 tsp. Warm Water
- 1 tsp. Vinegar
- 1 tsp. Soy Sauce
- 1/2 tsp. Honey
How To Make It (this looks intense, but I promise it's not)
- Pull your scallops from the fridge and inspect to see if they need to be pat-dried or not - if they look a little wet, just pat them dry with a paper towel (be gentle). If not, let's season them. Sprinkle smoked salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper on both sides of the scallops.
- Get a small pot of water on your stove with about 1/4 tsp smoked salt added to it. Don't boil it just yet.
- Now let's make our sauces.
- Spoon out your peanut butter into a small bowl. Heat on stove top/microwave just so that it's broken down and more liquid-like.
- Next, add your water, vinegar, soy sauce, and honey - mix to incorporate.
- You're done with sauce #1 - just set aside. You may need to re-warm just before serving.
- Go ahead and bring your pasta water to a boil and begin to make your second sauce.
- For sauce #2, place sesame oil in another small sauce pan. Heat over low-medium heat for a few minutes. Watch your oil because you don't want to burn it.
- Next, add the honey, soy sauce, minced garlic, red pepper flakes, and cayenne pepper to the oil.
- Continue to heat for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.
- You're done with sauce #2 - just set aside.
- Now your water is probably boiling. Place your pasta in the boiling water for ~3-5 minutes. (Fresh pasta takes far less time to cook than boxed pasta does.)
- Once your pasta is finished, do not strain it in a strainer!
- Remove the pasta from the heat.
- Have a bowl ready with a tad bit of your spicy oil in the bottom.
- Using a fork, pull a small bunch of noodles from the hot water and add to the spicy oil bowl. Continue to do this until all the noodles are in the spicy oil bowl. You can add a little bit of oil each time and mix to incorporate noodles and oil. Set aside.
- Now for the scallops.
- Add a little bit of olive oil to a non-stick skillet pan over medium-high heat. Bring the oil to temperature and then add your scallops to the pan, but don't crowd them. Cook on one side for ~2 minutes, flip them, then cook for another 1 & 1/2 minutes. You want a nice sear on each side but you don't want to overcook them. Scallops can get very rubbery very quickly!
- Now you have all of your components ready.
- Plate how you like!
- If you liked my plating, just grab a spoon and fork for your pasta. Grab a couple noodles with your fork and twist them into the spoon making a round "bunch" (like this guy is doing). Just place each "bunch" on your plate. Garnish pasta with sesame seeds. Then add one scallop to each "bunch," drizzle a tad bit of spicy oil over each scallop, and garnish with red pepper flakes.
- Now you're ready to enjoy!
It may seem like there's quite a bit of cayenne pepper and red pepper flakes in this dish - because there is. But that's ok! I like my food really spicy so you can definitely cut down on the spice to match your taste preferences. The peanut sauce recipe listed above makes about 4 tbsp. worth of sauce which may not seem like much, but it would be very easy to double/triple ingredients to make a larger quantity. As for the oil, you will definitely have some left over because you just want it to coat your noodles - you don't want them saturated. Try saving the leftover oil and using it as dressing for chicken or salads for later in the week.
Hope you enjoy!