A foolproof way to get your dinner guests excited about the seafood you’re serving is to present it to them tableside on a sizzling hot griddle. I refer to this attention-grabbing phenomenon as “the fajita effect”: like when someone in a Mexican restaurant orders the fajitas and all heads turn as soon as they hear the sputter and hiss of moist food hitting a smokin’ hot pan and get a whiff of the aromatic steam as it fills the room. You can have your family clamoring for more seafood much in the same way when you use a griddle to cook it.
The best griddles are typically made of cast iron. Their surface is flat and they are small enough to fit over one or two burners on a stovetop, but big enough to hold all the seafood you want to cook without crowding the portions.
Griddling differs from sautéing in that there is much less fat involved. Before cooking seafood on a griddle, it’s best to marinate it. The heat of the griddle turns a marinade into a crust on the outside of the seafood, adding both flavor and texture to the lean protein. While any number of seafood options including shrimp and dense, meaty fishes are good choices for the griddle, I think scallops are perfect for this technique. There are few foods so naturally balanced in flavor as scallops so that they pair beautifully with all sorts of marinades from Italian herbs and garlic (Link to CL recipe) to Thai-spiced peanut sauce to Mediterranean mint and lemon (Link to video).
High quality frozen scallops are a good choice if you don’t have access to fresh ones. Individually quick frozen scallops should be thawed in the refrigerator. If buying fresh scallops, ask for dry-packed ones as scallops packed in sodium based brine as a way to add moisture can have a chemical aftertaste, and are hard to sear properly.
Scallops take just five or six minutes to be griddled to perfection, so the combination of these low-fat mollusks and a smokin’ hot pan is a fast way to get more heart-healthy seafood onto your family’s table more often. Please take the pledge to eat #Seafood2xWk at seafoodnutrition.org.
Griddled Scallops with Mint and Lemon
This dish is a snap because you the mint and lemon combination serves as both marinade and finishing sauce. For food safety reasons, make sure you separate the portion of the mixture that will serve as the final sauce from the portion you will use as the marinade before combining the latter with the raw scallops.
24, dry-packed U20 scallops (about 1 1/4 pounds)
8 sprigs flat-leaf parsley, leaves only, chopped
20 mint leaves, thinly sliced
Zest and juice of one lemon
1/4 cup olive oil
8 wooden skewers
1. Season scallops with salt and place in a medium bowl. In a second bowl, combine mint, parsley, lemon zest and olive oil. Season with salt. Combine half of the marinade with scallops and let rest for 20 minutes to 8 hours. Stir lemon juice into remaining mint mixture.
2. Once the scallops have marinated, thread three onto each skewer. Place griddle over high heat until it is smokin’ hot. Place the scallop skewers on the hot griddle and cook, without moving until the scallops develop a crust, about 3 minutes. Flip the skewers, and turn off the heat. Allow scallops to sit until they are just cooked through (about 2 minutes more).
3. Drizzle reserved marinade over the top of the scallops and bring the sizzling, sauced scallops to the table right on the griddle.
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