Mary Beth Clark

Culinary Educator · Consultant · Author

Sea Scallops with Burst Cherry Tomatoes and Fennel

Burst cherry tomatoes, pomodorini scoppiati, make the perfect light sauce for all kinds of seafood. Fennel pairs well with seafood and tomatoes, so add some chopped fresh fennel bulb to the sauce.

4 first-course servings or up to 8 appetizers. Cooking time is 10 to 12 minutes.

1 pound (454 g) fresh sea scallops (about 8 large sea scallops)
White vermouth for rinsing sea scallops
Extra-virgin olive oil

Burst Cherry Tomatoes (Click for the recipe:
1 to 2 slices fresh fennel bulb (anise), chopped
Fresh thyme or Sweet Marjoram sprigs

1. Sauteing the fennel and combining with Burst Cherry Tomatoes: Pour a small amount of olive oil into a non-stick pan. Over low to medium heat, saute the raw fennel until barely soft, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the Burst Cherry Tomatoes. Cook until hot to the touch, 3 to 4 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat. Reserve for plating.

2. Sauteing the Sea Scallops: Meanwhile, briefly rinse the sea scallops with white vermouth to freshen. (This is a marvelous Chef's Tip for all seafood.) Or briefly rinse the sea scallops under cool running water to freshen. Drain and pat dry with paper towels. Pour a small amount of olive oil in a non-stick pan. With a paper towel, spread the oil around the inside of the pan making it glisten, but do not leave a puddle of oil.

Warm the pan over medium heat before adding the scallops, so the pan sizzles a bit when you carefully place the scallops broad-side down in the pan. Cook without moving the scallops for about 2 minutes. (When the scallops' edges on the cooking surface turn opaque white and the bottom is sizzling, lift one scallop up and look at the bottom. It should be golden brown.)

Using tongs or a thin metal spatula, turn over each scallop onto the opposite broad side. Increase the heat a little, and place a lid partially covering the pan (or hold it just above the top of the pan) for about 2 minutes to force the heat through each scallop. Remove the lid and set it aside. Check the cooking surface for the same golden brown. Touch the scallops, they should barely bounce back. Remove from the heat. Sea scallops cool down quickly and begin releasing their juice, so plate immediately. Transfer the scallops to serving plates. Garnish with the fennel and burst cherry tomatoes and herbs.

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