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Seared Alaska Scallops with Jalapeo Cream

Seared Alaska Scallops with Jalapeo Cream

Yield: 4 servings.

16 large Alaska Scallops (20/30 count, about 11/4 lbs. total)
2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
approximately 1/4 tsp. salt, plus more for sprinkling on scallops
as needed, freshly ground black pepper
11/2 Tbsp. olive oil
11/2 cups Roasted Jalapeño-Cilantro Salsa (recipe follows)
1/2 cup heavy cream or creme fraiche
1/3 cup fresh cilantro or parsley, chopped

11/2 lbs. ripe tomatoes (preferably plum tomatoes, about 6 medium)
2 to 3 fresh jalapeño chiles, stemmed
1/2 small white onion, sliced, 1/4" thick
4 garlic cloves, peeled
about 1/4 cup water
1/3 cup fresh cilantro, loosely packed, chopped
1 tsp. salt
11/2 tsp. cider vinegar

For Roasted Jalapeño Salsa: Heat broiler. Lay whole tomatoes and jalapeños out on broiler pan or baking sheet. Set pan 4 inches below broiler, and broil for about 6 minutes until darkly roasted (even rather blackened) on one side. Tomato skins will split and curl in places. With tongs, flip over tomatoes and chiles and roast other side for another 6 minutes so they are cooked through. Set aside to cool.

In a 425°F oven, on similar pan or baking sheet, combine onion (separated into rings) and garlic. Stir carefully every couple of minutes until onions are roasted (they'll be wilted) and garlic is soft and browned in spots¯about 15 minutes total.

Pull peels from cooled tomatoes and cut out the cores where stems were attached. In food processor, pulse the jalapeños with onion-garlic mixture until moderately finely chopped, scraping everything down with a spatula as needed. Scoop into a big bowl. Without washing processor, coarsely purèe tomatoes and all the juice that has accumulated around them, and add to the bowl. Stir in enough water to give salsa an easily spoonable consistency. Stir in cilantro. Taste and season with salt and vinegar. This condiment should be a little feisty in its seasoning. Yield: 21/2 cups.

For Scallops: Rinse scallops and place in a large bowl along with lime juice and a liberal sprinkling of salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for a couple of hours (no more, or it will "cook" the scallops). Remove from marinade and pat dry.

Heat oil in large, heavy skillet over medium high heat. Add scallops, making sure they're not crowded. Fry until richly browned on one side, about 2 minutes, then turn them over with tongs or a spatula and sear the other side 1 to 2 minutes more. Remove to a warm plate and pour off the oil left in the pan.

Return pan to the heat and, when hot, add salsa. Stir for a couple of minutes as salsa reduces, thickens and darkens. Reduce heat to medium-low, stir in cream, and when hot, taste and season with salt.

Ladle a portion of sauce onto each of 4 warm dinner plates, then arrange scallops on top. Sprinkle each liberally with chopped cilantro or parsley.

Recipe Provided By: Chef Rick Bayless, Frontera Grill and Topolobampo, Chicago.

Photo Credit: Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute