My husband loves seafood. Being from New England he has eaten it all of his life. I, on the other hand, grew up where our ocean was corn fields and my grandpa would smoke fish a la Norwegian style. I don’t love fresh water fish, it is not my cup of tea.
We would spend summers in the Northern Neck of Virginia where my mom and her family are from. That is the land of the blue crab. There is nothing better to me than sitting around, cracking crabs that have been steamed with so much Old Bay seasoning that the smell was in your skin. Cracking those crabs, dipping it in apple cider vinegar (not butter! I will fight you on this one) and licking that spice off of my fingers. That was my jam.
I was blessed to live in New England for a long time and fell in love with the seafood that was offered there. Cod, lobster, scallops, cold-water oysters, calamari etc. I think you have the picture. My challenge was I didn’t know how to cook it. Sure, there are plenty of recipes out there but it always makes my kitchen smell and if it doesn’t taste good it is a lot of money down the drain.
One of the first trips that I took with my then boyfriend was to Maine. I had been to Maine many times and loved the salty cool air and all of the seafood. We went to a restaurant in Portland named Street & Co. We started out with some Pemiquid Oysters on the half shell. Just a bit of lemon and fresh horseradish and I was hooked! For our entrees, Scot ordered scallops and I had linguini with lobster. We didn’t speak during the meal. We were both in a food euphoria and respected each others experiences enough to be quiet. Seeing Scot so happy with the scallops, I decided that I needed to figure these suckers out.
I started experimenting with scallops. They are expensive but i can only eat 3 of them and Scot can eat 4-5 so you can get 8 or so and it isn’t too bad. The thing with scallops is you want it to be simple. Let the sweetness of the scallop to be the star of the dish. One summer, Scot was unemployed and ended up doing a side hustle. There was a weekly fish program, like a CSA only with seafood. Scot would help this guy out by driving down to the Cape or to Boston to pick up seafood. He would pay Scot in seafood. Yes, you read that right. We ate scallops, swordfish or lobster almost every night that summer. We were worried about keeping our lights on while dipping lobster in butter. The lord works in mysterious ways.
I became more comfortable creating recipes with scallops. I will be sharing some more recipes soon.
I love corn. I love risotto. A match made in heaven, right? Then you add the scallops with brown butter and thyme. Perfect combo. I decided to try some corn risotto this past weekend to pair with the scallops. Both components of this dish are pretty simple so the flavors are able to speak for themselves. You don’t need to make both parts of this dish, they are good enough to stand alone or pair with other recipes.
Patience. With yourself and with the dish. It is something that takes time but if you respect the steps you can master risotto and make it any flavor that you like.
First off you need the correct type of rice. It is arborio rice. It has the right amount of starch to make the risotto creamy. You always toast the rice in butter or oil for a few minutes before you start to build it. I then go for wine. Stock is key to risotto. You need to keep the stock warm and add only 1/2 of a cup at a time. This recipe i put the corn cobs in with the stock to build that corn flavor. Once you add the stock you cook it until the rice absorbs those flavors then you add more. Slowly building up flavors. You finish it with butter, parmesan cheese and any other flavors with herbs etc.
Don’t be intimidated by risotto. Pour yourself a glass of wine, light some candles and turn on some music. Enjoy the experience and savor the slow and steadiness of making this dish. I believe in you. You can do. Bon appetit!
Put the stock in a saucepan along with the corn cobs. Simmer over low heat.
In a skillet add the olive oil and head to medium. Add the shallots and garlic to saute until soft, 3-4 minutes. Add the rice and coat with the oil. Cook for one minute then add the wine. Cook until all of wine has been absorbed.
Start building your risotto by adding 1/4 cup of stock at a time, stirring until absorbed. Keep going until most of the stock is gone. Taste the rice and see if it is al dente. Once it is cooked to perfection add salt to taste. Stir in the butter. Turn off the head and add the parmesan and thyme. Once it is all incorporated add the corn kernels.
Season the dried scallops with salt and pepper on both sides. Put the oil in the pan and bring to medium high heat. Place the scallops in the pan and cook until caramelized on one side, this could take 3-4 minutes. Flip over and cook 2 more minutes until done. Take out of the pan and put on a plate. Cover with foil to keep warm.
Melt the butter in the pan and add the thyme. Cook until the butter is nutty brown. Be careful not to burn.
Plate the risotto and top with the scallops. Spoon the brown butter over the top. Use more fresh thyme and salt flakes to finish.