Seared Sea Scallops with Minted Peas on Wonton Crisps

by valentina on December 14, 2011

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It’s really a shame my husband doesn’t eat shellfish.  Really, it is!  (His reason has to do with something about them being in a shell — don’t ask.)

Scallops are one my absolute favorite things.  When they’re cooked to perfection — please don’t overcook them! — they’re sweet, buttery, rich, and beautiful.

And when this sweet, buttery, rich deliciousness is combined with a thin crispy crunch and creamy, refreshing greens, it becomes utterly divine!  This recipe is for a wonderful hors d’oeuvre — a perfect holiday hors d’oeuvre!  Did I mention we (you and me, that is) are having a holiday hors d’oeuvre party on Friday? Yes we are, right here at Cooking On The Weekends.  I hope you’ll come!  I’m offering a bunch of bite-sized sweets and savories!

(And why not bring these scrumptious, crowd-pleasing hors d’oeuvres a holiday party this weekend?)

You can also make the minted pea mixture to use on its own.  It makes a fantastic spread for sandwiches or a dip for veggies.  Just ask my husband!  ;-)

Recipe
Makes approximately 2 dozen
Total Prep And Cooking Time: about 45 minutes

24 (3″ x 3″) wonton wrappers
Grapeseed oil for the pan and the wontons
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup frozen or fresh peas (see note)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint, plus about 30 whole leaves
2 tablespoons crème fraîche
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 sea scallops

To make the wonton crisps: Heat the oven to 375 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Use a 2-1/2-inch round cutter to cut 2 dozen circles from the wonton wrappers.

Place the wonton circles on the parchment-lined baking sheet and with a pastry brush, gently coat the top surface of each one with the grapeseed oil.

Bake in the preheated oven until they are golden, about 8 to 10 minutes.  Set them aside to cool to room temperature.

To make the minted peas: Coat a medium-sized sauté pan with grapeseed oil and place it over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook until soft, about 4 minutes.  Add the peas and cook for another 5 minutes.

Transfer the pea mixture to a food processor, add the whole mint leaves and the crème fraîche.

Blend until the mixture is fairly smooth and then season to taste with salt and pepper.  (Do not wash the sauté pan — you’ll use it to cook the scallops!)

To make the scallops: First, remove the muscle from each scallop (if it hasn’t already been removed).  You’ll recognize the muscle as a thicker portion of flesh, running up the side of the scallop.  It is slightly opaque compared to the rest of the scallop, and its texture is firm.  (This muscle is unpleasant to eat, and it should always be removed before cooking.) Simply grab the tab of the muscle and then gently pull it off the scallop.

Then use a very sharp paring knife, slice each scallop in half horizontally.  Place them on a baking sheet or large plate as you go and season both sides with salt and pepper.

Re-heat the sauté pan that was used for the peas over medium-high heat and add a thin coat of grapeseed oil. When the pan is very hot but not smoking, add the scallops.  You should hear a sizzle when the scallops hit the pan — if you don’t, wait!

About six at a time, sear the scallops until they are golden brown and just beginning to crack, about a minute on each side.   They should still be slightly translucent inside.

To assemble: Evenly divide the minted pea mixture among the wonton crisps. Top each with a seared scallop and garnish with a sprinkling of the finely chopped mint leaves.

I like to serve these with the scallops right out of the pan and still warm.  The wonton crisps and minted peas should be room temperature.

Timeline
Up to 2 days and at least 45 minutes ahead:
Make the minted pea mixture.
Up to 8 hours and at least 30 minutes ahead: Bake the wontons.
Up to 20 minutes ahead: Sear the scallops.
10 minutes ahead: Assemble!

Note:

If you are using fresh peas, the weight of the package should be about 3/4 pound, including the shells.  If you use frozen peas, they should be thawed before you begin cooking!

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