SCALLOPS WITH GINGER AND CARROTS (CONTINENTAL)
I put together a Franco-Italian recipe for scallops last night, based in part on a Marcella Hazan recipe, in part on a Pierre Franey recipe, and in part on my own invention. It's a procedure that makes good use of the Cuisinart shredding disk, an implement that I often go years without using and then wonder why I don't get it out more often:
Peel two medium carrots, cut them into 2-inch lengths, and run them (lengthwise) through the Cuisinart's shredding disk to make a big mound of carrot strings. Do the same with one medium zucchini. You should end up with roughly similar amounts of vegetables -- about 1 cup of each -- but the quantities aren't at all critical. Slice about half of a medium sweet onion paper thin, then cut each slice in half so it falls into pieces similar in shape to the carrot and zucchini. Clean and quarter 8 to 10 large fresh white mushrooms.
Mince 2 garlic cloves (about 1 tablespoon) and one good-size shallot (about 1/4 cup). Mix together, and add a sprinkle of dried red-pepper flakes to taste. Feel free to use onions or scallions if you don't have shallots.
Mince enough fresh ginger to make about 1 tablespoon.
Mince about 1/4 cup fresh cilantro.
Measure out 1/2 cup dry white wine. (I used leftover Jaja de Jau, a cheap white from the South of France.)
Rinse and pat dry 1 pound sea scallops. We have a good source, but if you're in any doubt about their perfect freshness, squeeze a little lemon or lime juice over them and let them sit in it for a few minutes while you're doing other things; drain and pat dry before cooking.
In a large pan (I used a wok) heat 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil over a high flame. Add the shallot-garlic mixture and stir until the vegetables are golden and aromatic. Add the mushrooms, reduce heat to medium, and stir until the 'shrooms start to "sweat." Add a little water if necessary. Cover, turn heat to low, and let cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes.
Remove the lid, turn the heat back to medium-high, and add the carrots, ginger and wine. Cook until the wine is considerably reduced, then add the zucchini, onion and scallops. Cover and cook just until the scallops are cooked through; you don't want to overcook them! Remove from heat, sprinkle with the cilantro, and serve.
This one went very well indeed with the Rias Baixas Albarino, a Spanish white wine that's made to go with shellfish; if beer's your choice, I think it would have made a great match with a fine German or Czech pilsner.