Scallops with Asparagus and Leeks
The recipe was simple (the following is printed without permission, straight from Jaimie Oliver's website):
16 asparagus spears, trimmed
12 baby leeks
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 handful of fresh marjoram or summer savory, leaves picked
12 large scallops, trimmed
2 pinches five-spice
(the following is Jaimie talking) - I've come across a couple of fantastic revelations here that I want to tell you about. First, by scoring the scallops on one side in a criss-cross fashion they open out when seared like a beautiful flower and when drizzled with a little dressing or sauce they take in all the flavour. Second, the subtle use of five-spice with any seafood is a real pleasure.
Blanch your asparagus and leeks in salted boiling water for a couple of minutes or until just tender and drain. Get a large, non-stick frying pan hot, then drizzle with olive oil. Cook your asparagus and leeks in batches if need be - they should cover the bottom of the pan in a single layer. Season and cook until lightly coloured on all sides. Remove to a bowl and rip over half your herbs. Add a squeeze of lemon juice. Leave to one side while you cook your scallops.
Get the same pan nice and hot, score the scallops half-way through in a criss-cross fashion on one side, season them on both sides with some salt, pepper and the five-spice, drizzle the pan with a few lugs of olive oil and add your scallops. Fry for a couple of minutes until they are golden, flip them over, add the rest of your herbs and cook for 1 more minute.
While the scallops are cooking, divide your leeks and asparagus between 4 warmed plates. Remove the pan from the heat and add 2 good knobs of butter and the juice of 1/2 the lemon. Shake the pan about, then put 3 scallops and a little bit of juice on to each plate. Serve immediately and get stuck in!
(this rest is Stu talking) - I ran into an adventure at the store, as they didn’t have baby leeks. Instead, they had regular-sized leeks, which are these gargantuan affairs that look like radioactive green onions. They really scared the hell out of me, so I spoke to the green grocer about substitutions. However, I was interrupted by a wonderful woman who said, “no, don’t substitute. Leeks are terrific.” So I decided that I’d go for it and see what happened.
When I got down to it, after blanching the leeks, I cut them into disks and fried them. They turned out fine.
Another adjustment to the recipe came when I realized at the last second that I didn’t have marjoram. So I substituted oregano and thyme, which was a fine way to go.
I used extra salt on the scallops, ‘cause Leslie loves salty things.
Did she like it? Why yes she did, thanks for asking.
Next time I cook asparagus I’m going to try and find white asparagus and fry them (without blanching) with oil and garlic.