Sunday, June 20, 2010

Trey's Birthday Dinner - Scallops Two Ways and Salmon, Asparagus and Simple Penne Pasta

 Let's talk about scallops, shall we? I think the first time I had scallops I was in college, and we were on a road trip through the Baja Peninsula. We stopped in a quaint little beach/fishing town on the Sea of Cortez called Bahia de los Angeles. I remember getting stung by sea lice, yelling at pelicans ("We're not fish!") and fishing with Velveeta cheese. I also remember eating huge scallops and getting very very sick.I did not try scallops again until about 4 years later at a restaurant in Austin called Cibo. It closed in 2008, shortly after I moved back to Portland. It was pretty expensive, but had great fresh food. The scallops they served there were served raw, carpaccio-style, pounded flat and dressed simply with lemon and olive oil and some arugula. It was a refreshing appetizer, light and very very very tasty. We've talked about making it for sometime, and got the urge to finally follow through yesterday while shopping for salmon at Zupan's. I am so glad we did.

We did the scallops two ways - one Cibo-style and one seared. They were both out of this world - even if you don't like scallops I recommend at least trying one of these recipes. This was my first time making scallops and I found them to be an easy, quick and delicious appetizer.

I think I've mentioned this before, but Trey loves salmon. Like is obsessed. I think he'd eat it every day if I allowed it. So, for his birthday dinner he chose salmon (of course), asparagus (duh), and his favorite penne pasta.

We got wild Columbia river King salmon ($22.99/lb at Zupan's). We caught a break in the rain and grilled it over charcoal (new propane grill coming today!) with the asparagus. When dinner was ready, we looked outside and realized it was actually quite nice - so pulled up our tiny little outdoor table, new chairs and ate al fresco. We did some yard work yesterday so the backyard was really pleasant. It turned out to be a great dinner for a great guy!

 Scallops Two Ways:
4 scallops - feeds two (though I told Trey if we do it again, we'll each need 4 scallops cuz they were so yummy!)
Olive Oil
1 tsp. Soy Sauce
1 Lemon
Good quality Balsamic Vinegar
Lemon Pepper
Pancetta or Prosciutto

For the pounded scallops carpaccio, take 2 scallops and cut them into coins (about 4 or 5 coins each scallop). Put a coin between wax or parchment paper and gently pound until very thin. Try not to over-pound, as they will break up and become mushy. Place the pounded scallops in the refrigerator until you are ready to eat. They need to be served very cold. I put them in the freezer for the last 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare dressing for the scallops carpaccio. Juice one lemon into a jar. Add salt and pepper, and 1 tsp soy sauce. Give it a shake. Add the olive oil (about 1/3 C.) gradually until mixture is well blended. Set aside.

Bake the proscuitto or pancetta in a 400 degree oven for 5-7 minutes, until crispy. Drain on paper towels and serve with scallops carpaccio.

For the seared scallops, take 2 scallops, cover them with olive oil and season with salt, pepper, and lemon pepper. You can sear them right away or put them in the refrigerator for a couple of hours until you're ready.

For the dressing for the seared scallops, emulsify 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar with about 1/3 C. olive oil and add salt and pepper. Set aside.

When you're ready to eat, take a good pan and heat 2 tbsp. butter and about 1 tbsp. of olive oil until it smokes. It took me about 4 minutes to get it good and hot. Sear scallops for about 1 1/2 minute each side. They should be nicely seared on each side and translucent through the middle.

Serve the seared scallops atop a bed of the arugula dressed with the balsamic/olive oil emulsion. Drizzle extra balsamic vinegar on top - I would have done a balsamic reduction had I thought of it for drizzling, but I didn't. I think it would be really good, though. Serve immediately.

To serve the scallop carpaccio, take the pounded scallops out of the refrigerator and arrange on a plate. Top with arugula that's been tossed in the lemon/soy vinaigrette and drizzle some extra dressing all over. Add your cooked pancetta or prosciutto. Serve immediately.

2 salmon filets
Lemon  Pepper
Garlic Salt
Olive Oil

A note on the salmon: Trey (and the dogs and the cats) loves the skin, and I don't. Last night, I got the bright idea I would take the skin off before we grilled it. I don't know if it made any difference in taste, besides both sides being well seasoned. It was kind of a pain the neck, so I don't really recommend it unless you really really hate salmon skin, then go for it.

Drizzle both sides of salmon fillet with olive oil. Season both sides with lemon pepper and garlic salt.

Heat charcoal or propane grill to medium-high. We started using this chimney starter. It makes lighting coals so easy and fast. It was only $13 at the Home Depot. A smart buy if you ask me!

 Make sure you clean the grate with a grill brush and oil it. I learned a neat trick recently; take a wadded up paper towel and soak it in canola oil. Using your tongs to hold the paper towel, rub the oil over the grate. Voila! A well oiled grate. We also use lemon (or lime) slices sometimes to clean/flavor the grill for fish. Just cut a lemon in half and rub the cut side all over the grate. It helps clean and imparts a subtle flavor to whatever you're grilling.

Place salmon fillets, skin side up (if you kept the skin on) and grill for 3-5 minutes per side. Take off grill and drizzle with lemon, if desired.

Serve with grilled asparagus and either penne pasta or white rice.

Trey's Simple Penne Pasta:
Penne pasta
Garlic Salt
Lemon pepper
Parmesan, shaved
Olive Oil

Cook pasta according to directions. Drain and put in a large saute pan. Saute with olive oil, garlic salt and lemon pepper. Top with shaved Parmesan cheese.  Garnish with basil, if desired.

Trey wanted these cupcakes from Saint Cupcake for his birthday dessert. I was happy to comply. He ordered the vanilla with chocolate frosting and I got the chocolate with cream cheese/vanilla frosting. They are super cute so I thought I'd share a couple pics!

 Bon appetit! And happy birthday, Trey!



Just bought a couple pounds of scallops at costco
today, can't wait to see what Marie does with them!
Very appetizing presentation Whitney!!

Whitney said...

Let us know what she does with 'em, Ric!