The inspiration for these Dunken Scallops came from a bottle of Tequila which has been patiently waiting in our cabinet for nearly 3 years. Neither Spice or I are huge fans of this spirit despite living in Southern California for over 20 years. My aversion may have something to do with an afternoon of one too many Margarita's.....but that's another story for another blog. I had been trying to think of what I could do different with our Scallops, and woke up one morning and said to Spice "Tequila!" He thought it was a little too early in the morning for this, but often my ideas come to me at night or even when I'm dreaming. Onto the recipe.....
I'll start by saying that even if you are not a fan of Tequila, you will still enjoy this dish. Just give it a try, and you'll learn about the sweetness that comes from the cactus juice, and makes for a wonderful flavor with the tender scallops. And, you can prepare this entire meal in 20 minutes ~ check us out R.R.!!
If you are serving this with rice as we did, you'll want to get that started first and bring to a par-boil. Drain the water, and add 2 Tbsp. of butter, and aerate the rice by creating holes in the bottom of the dish with the end of a wooden spoon. Cover the pot with 3 pieces of paper towel (this absorbs the moisture) and then put the lid on it. Place back on the stove over low heat for 20 minutes.
For the black bean sauce, you can coarsely chop: 1/2 an orange bell pepper, 1/2 red onion, 1 jalapeno (sans seeds) and 2 tomatoes. Add to your food chopper and blend to desired consistency; we chose to do ours as a sauce and pureed. In a saucepan over medium heat, add one can of black beans, and 1/2 can of sweet corn. Add your vegetable puree, and add your spices: 1 Tbs. San Juan Sazon Urban Accents, 1 Tbsp. of Old Bay, 1/2 tsp. garlic salt, and a pinch of coarse sea salt. Stir well, and you'll soon be able to smell the warming vegetables and spicy blend. It's fabulous!
For the star of the show, begin by laying your scallops out, and drying them, carefully. This is a critical step, as important as remembering to season your food. Add the scallops to a cold pan drizzled with a little olive oil. Turn the heat to medium high, and cook the scallops for about 2-3 minutes, depending on their thickness. The trick here is to leave them alone once you add them to the pan. It's tempting to peek - I know, but the scallops will easily lift once they begin to caramelize so trust me on this one. When you are ready to turn your scallops, add a healthy splash of tequila (is that an oxy moron?) to the pan, and let them cook on their other side, about 2 minutes. The alcohol will quickly evaporate, and the scallops will drink up the liquid, hence the "Drunken Scallops." You'll be surprised that you can now smell a sweet flavor emerging from the pan, and this will compliment the spicy black bean and bell pepper sauce. The rice serves as a great neutral, and balances the entire dish.
Sugar + Spice