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Sautéed Scallops with Orange, Fennel and Ginger

Sautéed Scallops with Orange, Fennel and Ginger
Scallops are best partnered by a wine with a profile of flavors that enhances their inherently succulent, sweet nature. Here, the added nuances of orange, fennel and ginger contribute a playful platform of tastes that marries with full-flavored, full-bodied white wines. Serve with simple roasted potatoes or saffron rice. Dependable: Sauvignon Blanc, especially from New Zealand. Daring: fresh, lightly oak-aged Chardonnay.

Ingredients:

  • 2 fennel bulbs
  • 8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup fish or chicken broth
  • 2 lb. sea scallops
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 1 Tbs. grated orange zest
  • 1 tsp. peeled and grated fresh ginger
  • 1 cup dry white wine or dry vermouth

Directions:

Cut off the stems and feathery tops and any bruised outer stalks from the fennel bulbs. Coarsely chop enough of the feathery tops to yield 1/4 cup and set aside. Core the fennel bulbs and thinly slice crosswise or lengthwise.

In a sauté pan over medium heat, melt 2 Tbs. of the butter. Add the fennel and sauté, turning often and gradually adding the broth, until the fennel is tender and most of the broth is absorbed, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

In a large sauté pan over high heat, melt 2 Tbs. of the butter. Add the scallops and sear, turning once, until pale gold on both sides but still quite soft, 2 to 3 minutes total. Transfer to a plate.

In the same pan over medium heat, melt 2 Tbs. of the butter. Add the shallots and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the orange zest, ginger and wine and cook until the liquid is reduced by half, 5 to 8 minutes. Return the fennel and scallops to the pan and warm through quickly. Stir in the remaining 2 Tbs. butter.

Transfer to a warmed serving dish and sprinkle with the chopped fennel fronds. Serve immediately.
Serves 4.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Lifestyles Series, Food & Wine Pairing, by Joyce Goldstein (Time-Life Books, 1999).