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    A flavour boost

    Ann Maloney

    THE WASHINGTON POST – Is everything better with crisped, cured chorizo? Of course not, but sometimes it can seem that way.

    I’ve found that a bit of the spicy sausage tossed into savoury dishes can mean the difference between fine and oh my, delicious. It also can be a go-to if your ingredients are too mild or not quite up to snuff.

    Take this dish: Pan-Fried Scallops With Crispy Chorizo, a one-skillet recipe from The Seafood Shack by Kirsty Scobie and Fenella Renwick. They own a food truck in Ullapool, a small fishing village on the northwest coast of Scotland with a deep fishing history.

    Their cookbook features about 80 recipes for dishes served at the business, where the two friends cook whatever the freshest catch of the day might be.

    About these bivalves, they wrote: “Our scallop diver will randomly pop his head in on any given day and said, ‘I’ve got some scallops for you,’ and within an hour they’ll be on the menu.”

    Pan-Fried Scallops With Crispy Chorizo. PHOTO: THE WASHINGTON POST

    Sounds dreamy, doesn’t it?

    If I had scallops that fresh, I’d probably be so excited, I’d lightly sear them in bit of butter, sprinkle them with salt and pepper and dig in. Unfortunately, I – and I bet you – usually cook with less than fresh-from-the-water catch. That’s where the chorizo comes in. (Here I’m talking about cured Spanish chorizo and not the fresh Mexican variety.)

    This simple preparation calls for big scallops seared in hot fat. Then, chorizo, butter and herbs are added to pan and the scallops are basted as they caramelise on the outside. (The recipe calls for specific fresh herbs, but you can substitute your favorites or use just one herb.)

    The resulting chorizo-enhanced sauce is so flavorful even non-scallop lovers would likely be delighted. I chose to balance the richness by serving it with steamed couscous, but you could choose rice or any favourite grain.

    This idea of tossing just a little chorizo into dishes that need a little flavor boost is why I try to keep the sausage on hand.

    If you want to try playing around with chorizo, you don’t need a specific recipe, just dice it, crisp it and add it to a salad, a quick blender marinara sauce, a plate of pasta, a baked potato and, of course, eggs of all kinds.

    PAN-FRIED SCALLOPS WITH CRISPY CHORIZO
    25 minutes
    Four servings

    This recipe creates a rich buttery sauce, but, if you prefer, you can make it with olive oil.

    Storage Notes: Refrigerate for up to 1 day.

    INGREDIENTS
    For the couscous
    – One tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
    – One-and-a-half cups plain couscous
    – Two cups water
    – 1/4 teaspoon fine salt

    For the scallops
    – 16 medium/large scallops
    – Two tablespoons canola oil or another neutral oil
    – 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, thinly sliced
    – Three ounces dry-cured chorizo, chopped small
    – Three tablespoons chopped fresh chives
    – Two tablespoons chopped fresh curly parsley leaves and tender stems
    – One tablespoon chopped fresh dill fronds and tender stems
    – Fine salt
    – Freshly ground black pepper
    – Lemon, cut into four wedges, for serving

    DIRECTIONS
    Make the couscous: In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, heat one tablespoon of oil until shimmering. Add the couscous and cook, stirring frequently, until the grains begin to brown, about three minutes. Add the water and salt and stir briefly to combine. Bring the water to a boil, cover and remove the pan from the heat. Let sit until the liquid is absorbed and the couscous is tender, about seven minutes. Uncover and fluff the couscous with a fork.

    Make the scallops: While the couscous cooks, remove the side muscle from each scallop by pulling it off and pat the scallops dry. This keeps them from spitting when added to the hot oil.

    In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the scallops. They should sizzle when they hit the hot oil. Cook without moving them until they are seared to a caramel colour, about one minute. Lightly season with salt and pepper, flip and cook on the other side until browned, about one minute.

    Add the butter, chorizo, chives, parsley and dill, and as the butter starts to foam, baste the scallops for about 30 seconds. Keep your temperature at medium-high to help caramelise the scallops more as the butter melts, cooking one to two minutes, but adjusting the heat if the butter starts to burn. It’s OK if it browns and smells nutty.

    Spoon the couscous onto individual plates and top it with scallops and some chorizo sauce. Serve with lemon wedges.

    NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION
    Calories: 792; Total Fat: 50g; Saturated Fat: 24g; Cholesterol: 136mg; Sodium: 937mg; Carbohydrates: 55g; Dietary Fibre: 4g; Sugar: 0g; Protein: 28g

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