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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Scallop Scampi

I love making pasta.  I love angel hair pasta, but I can't make it. It's just too thin for my pasta roller/cutter.  So, I buy really good quality angel hair pasta.

I had some very tiny bay scallops that I thought would work great with the delicate mouthfeel of the angel hair pasta.  What I came up with was not so much a recipe, but a method and is very similar to Spaghetti alle Vongole or Spaghetti With White Clam Sauce.

The dish came  together quickly once the pasta was cooked, so mise en place' was  helpful, if not crucial.  I had everything prepped and ready to go, which left my mind free to think about the actual cooking.

The water for the pasta was heavily salted.  It tasted "of the sea.".  Very important for well seasoned and great tasting pasta.  Boiled, set aside, and about a cup of  the pasta water reserved for the sauce.

In a very hot pan, I seared the scallops quickly and then removed them to the side.  I drizzled olive oil around the pan to cover and added the finely chopped onion, celery, garlic, and julienned red bell pepper, with a sprinkling of sea salt.  I let those saute for a few minutes to color and soften before deglazing the pan with a dry white wine, letting it reduce by half,  picking up the flavor bits from the bottom of the pan.  I added  a cup of seafood stock and a ladle of the pasta cooking water and let it simmer until  thickened and reduced.  The salty starchy pasta water helped  thicken  and season the sauce.  I returned the scallops to the pan, turned off the flame, threw in a few pats of butter, swirling it to melt into a glossy shimmering sauce.
Afrer tossing the angel hair pasta into the pan to combine, I showered it with fresh parsley and served it in large pasta bowls with lemon wedges and garlic bread to sop. 

So delicate.  So light.  The tiny threads of  pasta wrapped around the equally tiny scallops, capturing them like prey.  The sweetness of the onions mellowed the sharpness of the garlic, the celery added an al dente bite and crispness, and the julienned red peppers mimicked the strands of pasta with  a savory sweet earthiness.  The final  parsley shower added a grassy floral freshness.

The garlicky stock, wine, and butter-infused sauce was a perfect bath for bread soaking and sopping.

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