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Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Grilled Scallops on Roasted Carrot Orange Purée

I recently rediscovered a way of cooking carrots which brings out their best natural taste, by roasting them.  The taste was so extraordinary I saw myself eating at a fancy restaurant.. except for the presentation.  I'm pretty sure a fancy restaurant wouldn't serve carrot sticks the way I did.
They would probably serve halves.. hmm.
Anyhow, carrots are a perfect pair with roasted scallops, and to take absolutely nothing away from the nobility of scallops, I decided to make a purée while still keeping that over the top roasted carrot flavor..
and to make it even more fancy, use whole cumin seeds and orange juice.
This may seem like a quick task, but there are certain steps not to be skipped if you want that amazing flavor.  Another guarantee is to buy the carrots that come in bunches with stalk and stems from the farmer's market. 
I labeled this seafood and vegetarian because you don't necessarily have to pair it with scallops.  It's delicious on its own.
Serves 3-4 as an appetizer
1 lb scallops
1 large fresh bunch carrots (around 1 1/2 lbs), peeled and halved
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
juice from 1 orange
1 Tbsp chili oil
1 Tbsp EVOO
pinch of fleur de sel
few cracks fresh pepper
1/2 tsp ground piment d'espelette
1 Tbsp cream (optional)
chopped cilantro for garnish
1.  Toss the carrots in the chili oil, fleur de sel, pepper, and piment d'espelette.
2.  Heat the EVOO in a frying pan and add the cumin seeds.  Cook until they crackle.  The aroma should be seeping out of them.
3.  Add the carrots.  Toss well to get the cumin well distributed.  Cook on high for about 5 minutes.  This will sear them somehow.  It's essential.  I didn't have a big enough pan for all the carrots, so here is about half of them.
4.  Transfer the carrots to an oven proof dish without overlapping them.  Add 1/2 of the orange juice.
5.  Roast in a 200°C 400°F oven for 40-50 minutes.  Remove and let cool a bit.  They should be beautiful.
6.  Take the tails off if you wish and mash them with the other 1/2 orange juice and cream if using.  Try not to eat it all.
7.  When ready to eat, heat a bit of EVOO in a frying pan and grill the scallops.  Be gentle with them.  Do this for about 2 minutes on each side, then squeeze some lime juice on them and serve with the carrot purée.

This is definitely something I'll make again.  It has so much flavor it will impress even the toughest of guests.. and I suppose it's good for children as well since they seem to prefer mashed veggies.. but I don't know much about that obscure part of life.
It's also a nice alternative to the classic "Coquilles St. Jacques" everyone busts out during the holidays.. drowned in wine and béchamel, which take away all the noblesse of the St. Jacques.
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