I want to let you in on a little secret. Decadent holiday entertaining is only a seared scallop and orange tomato browned butter spoonful away. I wouldn’t lead you on…not when it comes to one of my all-time favorite recipes.
If you’ve ever tasted freshly made butternut squash ravioli pan seared in a brown butter sage sauce or petrale sole gently bathed in brown butter, capers, and lemon, you’ll know why chefs use browned butter. Learning to brown butter in culinary school, known as making a beurre noisette sauce in French, was sometimes torture. We did it again, and again, and again until we got it right which means perfect. The trick was in not just trusting your eyes to know when it was ready but really tuning into your nose to do the work–that oh so tender moment between a perfectly toasted hazelnut and a burning disaster.
But my friend Barbara, a beloved Brazilian student and amazing chef, changed my world when she came into school one night and told me about these buttery, juicy scallops she had made the night before with a creative twist. She paired them with browned butter. Wait. She didn’t stop there. Creating a complex and rounded taste, she combined that browned butter with acidic tomato puree and sweet fresh juice from an orange. I started salivating just thinking about it. So I clearly made the best rendition I could imagine from Barbara’s sensual description the minute I had a free night off from school–of course for my dearest friends.
The heady aroma and the buttery yet citrusy taste of her rich sauce will make you beg for more. I don’t often moan and groan after taking a bite of a dish, but these scallops are a spoon-type situation. Oh, yes. Drop that fork and pick up your spoon. You are going to want to scoop up every last ounce of this sauce!
And to make my version of Barbara’s brilliant scallops bullet proof for the home cook, I throw my sauce into a blender to ensure it doesn’t break (fats separating from their other liquid components), which turns the sauce into the most vibrant orange color, sure to break those winter blues. So whether you decide to hog this recipe all for yourself or serve your friends these jewels of decadence this holiday season, be sure to say a quiet “obrigada” to Barbara when you’re licking your spoon.
- Oranges, 2, juiced
- Tomato puree, 1 cup
- Butter, unsalted, 4 tablespoons cubed
- Salt, 1 ¼ teaspoons (divided)
- Scallops, 8, dried thoroughly, side muscle removed
- Vegetable oil, 1 tablespoon
- Chives, 1 bunch, diced
- Blend tomato puree, juiced oranges, and 1 teaspoon salt.
- Sprinkle ¼ teaspoon salt over the dried scallops.
- Heat butter over medium high heat until milk solids start separating from butterfat.
- Swirl butter in pan. When you smell hazelnuts and brown bits start to form, remove from heat and add to the other sauce ingredients in the blender. Pulse until combined.
- Preheat aluminum pan. Add ½ tablespoon vegetable oil.
- Carefully place each scallop in pan. Do not move scallops until you see a brown crust forming on the bottom of the scallop.
- Turn scallops over in the pan. Turn heat down to medium low.
- Cook for another minute. Let this batch rest on a plate while you cook the remaining 4 scallops.
- Reheat satsuma butter sauce in a pot over low heat until warm.
- Serve 2 scallops per person in shallow bowls on top of the sauce. Eat with a spoon!