Finally, I’ve deep-fried scallops. They were perfect! Everyone wanted to eat them. The recipe for “Popcorn Scallop Tacos with Cilantro-Avocado Crema,” from the April 2011 issue of Cuisine at Home, follows. A deep-fry thermometer is crucial to the success of this endeavor.
Popcorn Scallop Tacos
Cuisine at Home, April 2011
Makes 12 tacos
1 1/2 cups cornstarch
2 1/3 tsp. kosher salt
2 1/3 tsp. black pepper
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
3/4 tsp. black pepper
3+ cups plain panko bread crumbs
6 1/4 cups canola oil, for frying
25 oz. bay scallops, patted dry, seasoned with salt and black pepper
12 (6-inch) corn tortillas
12 leaves red leaf lettuce
2 mangoes, pitted, peeled, sliced
3/4 cup sliced red onion
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
Combine cornstarch, 2 1/3 tsp. salt, 2 1/3 tsp. black pepper together in a shallow dish. Set aside.
Whisk eggs, 3/4 tsp. salt, 3/4 tsp. black pepper together in a shallow dish. Set aside. Pour panko into a third shallow dish. Set aside.
Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium heat to 360 degrees.
Dredge each scallop in cornstarch mixture, lightly coating all sides. Dip into egg mixture, then into the panko.
Fry scallops in oil until browned on all sides, 3 minutes total. Remove scallops to a paper-towel lined plate. Season with salt; set aside.
Coat a nonstick skillet with nonstick spray; fry each tortilla over medium heat, 30 seconds per side.
Fill tortillas with lettuce, mango, and onion. Divide scallops among the tacos, then top each taco with Cilantro-Avocado Crema (recipe follows).
Makes 1/2 cup
1/4 cup sour cream
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 small avocado (or 1/2 large avocado), pitted and peeled
Lime juice, minced jalapeno, salt, pepper to taste
Puree sour cream, cilantro, oil, garlic, and avocado in a food processor until smooth.
Season crema with lime juice, jalapeno, salt, and pepper. Chill until ready to serve.
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
You must methodically position your three separate bowls of cornstarch, eggs, and panko crumbs, for optimal dredging. Your oil temperature will slowly rise to 360 degrees. When I added my first batch of scallops, the oil temperature then dropped significantly. So I made sure to bring the temperature back up for my second batch.
Corn tortillas are fabulous. The “Cilantro-Avocado Crema” is creamy, tart, and easy to assemble in the food processor. Your final tacos are tricky to eat — messy — but you’ll keep eating. It’s hard to stop, they’re that good.
Nava Atlas’ recipe for “Valencian Rice and Red Beans” allowed me to take liberties. Admit it: a recipe with rice and beans and vegetables and tomatoes is all about flexibility and comfortable pleasures. Instead of fresh tomato, I used 15 oz. of canned diced tomatoes. And instead of canned beans and stuffed olives, I used an amount of frozen peas and corn. Are my substitutions and freeform adjustments forgivable? Well, of course they are. This was the right rice dish to serve alongside my messy tacos. I skipped the cayenne pepper, and instead enjoyed using the bell pepper and dried oregano.
Bay Scallops (25 oz.) = $13.73
Mangoes (2) = $3.12
Red Onion (1) = .12¢
Avocado (1) = $2.01
Onion (1) = .30¢
Green Bell Pepper (1) = .94¢
RECIPES: once you agree to the deep-frying task, your reward will be fantastically fun scallops and right-on rice
PREP TIMES: you must patiently wait for the oil temperature to reach 360 degrees with each batch of scallops you fry, but each batch fries in three quick minutes; the rice needs at least an hour of prep and combined cooking
TASTES: a perfectly fried scallop is a crunchy kick that everyone will be guaranteed to love, while red-leaf lettuce, mango and red-onion slices fill superstar corn tortillas, drizzled with that green crema, tart with sour cream and lime juice: wow! then turn to the comforts of whatever you’ve added to your tomatoey rice
My next crazy meal will include the “Chickpea, Quinoa and Spinach Salad with Preserved Lemon Vinaigrette,” from theperfectpantry.com, and the “Squash and Green Beans in Coconut Milk,” from ivoryhut.com. See my winning results when you come back to my site next time.