Scallops On Spiced Lentils
Here I serve Scallops with spiced lentils and wilted spinach. Note that there is not a huge kick in the lentils as we don’t want to overwhelm the delicate flavour of the scallops.
A romantic dinner
About this Recipe
By: Tom Arundel
Scallops are a wonderful luxury. They are certainly not cheap and if you go for hand-dived scallops in the shell then they are very expensive but despite the protestations of celebrity chefs, scallops that have been frozen make for a very serviceable and yummy alternative. If available make sure that you go for the larger king scallops rather than the much smaller queenies.
6 king scallops, roe attached
125g red lentils
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed and finely chopped
1 tsp cumin powder or seeds, crushed
1 tsp coriander powder or seeds, crushed
1 stick cinnamon
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste)
1 bag baby leaf spinach
salt & pepper to taste
You need to make sure that the scallops are the last thing you cook and get the timing right. If you overcook them or leave them waiting then they will go hard and rubbery – not nice. I would not recommend a huge amount of variation with this dish. You can play with the spices in the lentils to give it more of an Indian flavour (maybe add green cardamom, cloves and fenugreek instead of the cinnamon) or more of a north African scent (ginger) but you want to aim for a gentle spice that complements rather than overwhelms the sweet scallop taste. Experiment with the spices and read some Indian and Moroccan dishes to understand the predominant spicing that these cuisines use – they do vary from region to region so you can get quite regionally specific in the flavours you create.
Step by Step Instructions
Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a saucepan over a medium heat. Add the chopped onion and garlic and sweat for a few minutes until softened and translucent.
Add the cumin, coriander, cinnamon stick and cayenne pepper and stir into the onion and garlic. Cook for a couple of minutes until the spices start to darken a little and a paste forms
Add the dry lentils and coat with the spice mixture for 30 seconds
Add the water to the lentils, add 1 tsp of salt (or to taste) and bring to the boil. Turn down to a simmer and cook for 10-12 minutes until the lentils are soft and the water has been fully absorbed then take off the heat and leave
While the lentils are cooking pat the scallops dry with a paper towel. Sprinkle them generously with salt and pepper. Put to one side
Heat a small knob of butter in a pan or wok over a medium heat and when this is sizzling add the spinach. Stir round for a couple of mins and add salt and pepper to taste. Once wilted take off the heat
Heat a knob of butter (or 1tbsp olive oil) in a good sized frying pan over medium-high heat
Once the butter starts to bubble add the scallops to the pan. The first scallop should sizzle on contact. If it doesn’t, wait a few seconds to let the pan heat before adding the rest
Cook the scallops for 2 minutes, then turn them over – it should be nicely browned on the underside
Cook the scallops on the other side for another 2-3 mins. Both sides of the scallop should be seared golden-brown and the sides should look opaque all the way through. The scallops should feel firm to the touch, but still slightly soft – any more and it will be tough and chewy
Plate the lentils first, then the spinach and finally the scallops on top while they are still warm