Sunday, November 04, 2012

Snacking State-by-State: Washington II - See Sea Scallops! See Pink Scallops? Sing, Pink Scallops, Sing!

When I think of seafood in the Pacific Northwest, I think of two things: salmon and Dungeness crab.  I did not realize, however, the importance of the delicate, toothsome scallop.

Official Name: State of Washington
State Nickname: The Evergreen State
Admission to the US: November 11, 1889 (#42)
Capital: Olympia (21st largest)
Other Important Cities: Seattle (largest), Spokane (2nd largest), Tacoma (3rd largest) 
Region: Northwest, Pacific, Pacific Rim; Pacific (US Census)
RAFT NationsSalmon
Bordered by: Pacific Ocean (west), Oregon (south), Idaho (east), British Columbia (Canada) (north)
Official State Foods and Edible Things: apple (fruit); bluebunch wheatgrass (grass); steelhead trout (fish); Walla Walla sweet onion (vegetable)
Some Famous and Typical Foods: Pacific coast seafood, including but not limited to: Dungeness crab, salmon, trout, scallops of many varieties, Geoduck clam, mussels, oysters, halibut, cod; blackberries, apples, huckleberries, cranberries, cherries; hazelnuts; coffee

I love scallops, but they are an occasional treat for me.  I don't get to eat too many of them because they're pricey (try $17 per pound locally).  The lucky people in Washington get to eat these things more often (are they cheaper there?) and more readily when in season.

In his eponymous Seattle Kitchen cookbook [2001], Tom Douglas discusses the different kinds of scallops, especially the much-prized but so rare "singing scallops"
Weathervane or Pacific scallops are the large and meaty scallops that are featured as "sea scallops" on local menus.  They are sold shucked and trimmed and are often grilled or sautéed.  Pink or singing scallops are native to Puget Sound and are hand-harvested by divers. Their season is short and sporadic, so whenever we get singing scallops, we put them right on the menus as specials...  They are very fragile, so we make sure to serve them the day we get them.  [Douglas 2001:61-62]
Douglas has a recipe for singing scallops - you can use sea or even bay scallops instead, since singing scallops are so difficult to come by, especially outside the Northwest.  I interpreted this recipe, on pages 68 and 69 of his Tom Douglas' Seattle Kitchen, with a few small changes: as he suggests for those with no easy access to singing scallops, I went ahead and used sea scallops, shucked fresh at Wegman's, and trying to stay close to his recommendations I swapped out the Muscat wine for a somewhat cheaper Muscatel recommended by the nice people at the Wine Source in Hampden.

The Recipe: Singing Sea Scallops in Muscat Muscatel Sabayon

* sea scallops (I now know why I don't buy many scallops - even these were $17 per lb!!! Ouchie!)
* Muscatel (Botani Moscatel, from the Sierra de Málaga.  This bottle was about $10)
* tarragon (I really need to start growing this, since this puny amount of this delicious herb set me back $2)
* red onion (about 50 to 75 cents)
* lemon (one lemon: about 67 cents)
* orange rind (I forget how much the orange was)
* egg yolks (you need two, and I had the eggs in the fridge)
* kosher salt (had it)
* butter (same)

Peel the orange rind (set this aside), slice the lemon and cut the onion into pieces.

You will cook the lemon and onion with some of the tarragon in the Muscatel

Next, poach the sea scallops in the boiling wine mixture for a few minutes...

...until barely cooked.

Next, spoon out the scallops and set aside.

Get a strainer ready.

Strain the wine mixture into a saucepan, and discard the things that were just boiling in it.

And reduce until syrupy.

Meanwhile, arrange the scallops on a baking sheet.

Pour your reduced wine mixture into a metal bowl, add the egg yolks and whisk for several minutes over a pot of boiling water.  You will add the orange rind and some more tarragon after whisking the egg yolks.  I got impatient and figured I had done something wrong...

...but lo and behold, I did get a lovely sauce!

Spoon a little of the sauce over each scallop.

Place the scallops under the broiler for just a few short minutes.

And this is what you get.

So much work goes into such pricey (for me they're pricey) ingredients, but what a decadent thing to eat in the end!  The firm scallops covered in this delicate, tangy and sweet sauce is wonderful either as an appetizer (per Tom Douglas' suggestion), or as a small main dish.  I had some with white rice, which complements it nicely.


Douglas, Tom.  Tom Douglas' Seattle Kitchen.  William Morrow: New York, 2001.

"kiwisoutback" ( user).  "How to Make a Starbucks Iced Latte."  In "Starbucks Coffee Drink Recipes", Copyright 2008,  All rights reserved.

Washington Apple Commission.  "Crop facts."  Copyright 2010 Washington Apple Commission.  All rights reserved. 

Washington Apple Commission.  "Golden Apples and Yams."  Copyright 2010 Washington Apple Commission.  All rights reserved.  "History of Starbucks."  Date unknown.

Some information also obtained from Wikipedia's "Washington" page and other pages, and the Food Timeline State Foods link to "Washington".