With Valentines being mid-week this year, I want to share a recipe with you for an easy, special dinner that can be made when you get home from work. Seared scallops with orange miso sauce. It uses one of my favorite seafood ingredients – big plump sea scallops.
Seared Scallops with Orange Miso Sauce
Scallops are fast and easy to cook and are versatile in terms of how you can serve them. Here I’ve created a tasty sauce with fresh orange juice and sweet white miso, a wonderful sweet, salty, savory combination.
Sear the scallops quickly in a hot pan and serve atop your favorite rice. Dress with orange miso sauce and you’ll have a terrific dinner ready in under 30 minutes. You can even make the sauce ahead to save time and simplify making dinner.
Marvelous Miso, A Japanese Tradition
Miso actually means fermented beans. Best known for miso soup, nourishing miso can be used in many ways beyond the soothing soup served at your favorite sushi bar.
Miso is an all-purpose, fermented seasoning that has been crafted for centuries in Japan. It’s made from whole soybeans, brown rice and sea salt as well as other ingredients for specials flavors such as dandelion greens, wild leeks, sea vegetables, chickpeas, millet and even red peppers.
Considered a healing, healthy food, miso offers a nutritious balance of natural carbs, oils, important minerals, vitamins, phytonutrients, high quality protein, fiber and all of the essential amino acids (the kind we must get from diet).
Miso is naturally high in sodium. According to Worlds Healthiest Foods, recent research has shown that in spite of its high-sodium content, miso does not appear to affect our cardiovascular system in the way that other high-sodium foods can.
“Some researchers have speculated that the unique soy protein composition of miso (including peptide building-blocks of protein that get formed from soy proteins when the beans are fermented) is one of the key reasons for the cardiovascular support provided by miso.”
Read the full article here for more information and a list of health benefits.
For this recipe, I used sweet white miso, also called shiro miso. Shop for organic white miso in the refrigerated dairy section of most markets, especially health-orinted markets. Choose only organic miso. As miso is made with whole soy beans, you want to insure you are not buying GMO soy beans. Also compare sodium levels. Miso tends to be high in sodium and brands vary.
An Artisan Miso Option
If you enjoy unique, artisan-produced ingredients, check out South River Miso. They’ve been making hand-crafted, wood-fired, certified organic miso since 1979 according to a centuries-old, Japanese farmhouse tradition. You can read about the making of miso and all of the wonderful varieties that they produce on their website.
As miso lasts almost forever in the refrigerator, don’t be afraid to order a few that sound good and experiment with them. Their miso is amazing, and many flavors are gluten-free. And South River is lower in sodium than many brands I have tried.
Make the Quick Orange Sauce
To make the sauce, simply combine fresh orange juice, garlic, ginger, sesame oil, honey and sweet white miso. Whisk the ingredients together and reduce (cook down a bit) in a small pan and you have a terrific, Japanese-inspired sauce. This can be done ahead for a faster dinner.
How to Sear Scallops
Because they are delicate, I use a non-stick pan to sear scallops. My favorite is the ScanPan. It’s the best non-stick pan I’ve used and works great for searing scallops as well as many other dishes (like omelets and eggs). Check your non-stick pan. If it’s scratchy and the coating is old and flaking, it’s not safe to use. Toss it and invest in a new one.
Unwrap the scallops and allow them to sit on the counter for about 30 minutes to get the chill off. Check to see if the abductor muscle is still attached (the ‘foot’). If it is, remove it. It’s chewy and not nice to eat. Some stores remove it for you.
Sprinkle the scallops with kosher or sea salt, ground black pepper and granulated garlic. Heat the pan over medium to medium-high heat and add just a tiny bit of oil. Place the scallops in a single layer in the pan. Don’t crowd them. Allow a golden crust to form. This will take a few minutes. Don’t disturb the scallops while they are searing. Watch your heat and turn down if needed. You don’t want them to burn.
When you get a golden crust, turn them over. I use silicone tipped tongs to treat them gently. Pour in the wine (sake, broth or water) and immediately cover with the lid. Turn the heat to low. The scallops will finish cooking in about 1-2 minutes, depending on size and thickness. When done they should still be a little translucent in the center. Don’t overcook them.
Complete Your Dinner
To serve, place cooked rice on a plate, top with the scallops and drizzle with the orange miso sauce. For garnish, sprinkle on chopped chives. A few drops of toasted sesame oil are nice too, but optional. Add a green side vegetable such as asparagus or broccolini. Cook them simply and dress with a few drops of the toasted sesame oil and a little fresh grated orange zest. If you’d like, add a tossed green salad. A note on rice, try Forbidden Black rice. Cooks perfectly in 30 minutes.
For tips on how to buy scallops, read this post.