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Scallops with grapefruit-brown butter sauce are quick and luxurious

G Daniela Galarza

THE WASHINGTON POST – One of our most valuable resources is our attention. It’s why we “pay” attention, as Arthur Miller wrote – it’s costly, and comes at the expense of our time.

But it’s a crucial ingredient in any kitchen, and an underlying theme in Andy Baraghani’s new cookbook, The Cook You Want to Be.

I adore Baraghani’s approach to cooking, which emphasises using your intuition and senses, feeling the food in your hands and tasting as you go – and not just because many of his go-to techniques and flavour combinations are clearly influenced by his Iranian palate.

Of the many recipes in his book that caught my eye, the one I think we should make tonight is scallops with grapefruit-brown butter. It’s a simple dish that takes just about 20 minutes to prepare, but will require your full attention.

This is because scallops take very little time to cook, and you really don’t want to overcook them, lest they turn into rubbery pucks.

Attention is warranted, too, because high-quality, dry-packed scallops are not inexpensive.

With many of us looking for ways to tighten our budgets, scallops may seem like a luxury.

But it’s also a time of great unrest and deep sadness. When things seem so off, so distressing, I like to spend a little extra – money and attention – on myself. Maybe you do, too?

Scallops with grapefruit brown butter. PHOTO: THE WASHINGTON POST

“Scallops are one of those food items that I’ve always thought of as fancy but never trendy,” Baraghani told me by phone. “When I feel like I can afford them, I order them at a restaurant – that’s the move. It feels luxurious.”

“Scallops beg to be paired with acid,” Baraghani told me, “and grapefruit is one of the most complex acids, where it has this sweet tanginess and bitterness at once.”

Whisk in some fresh grapefruit juice. As the citrus juice reduces, its bitterness will soften.

Within minutes, the sauce will turn silky and glossy – a negligee, barely there but utterly bewitching.

Plate the scallops, draping the sauce over and around each one. Then garnish the dish with thinly sliced radishes and a sprinkle of chile flakes. “I love radishes with butter, so radishes with a butter-and-citrus sauce? Easy,” Baraghani said.

20 minutes | Four servings

Sea scallops in a tangy sauce enriched with brown butter make an especially luxurious weeknight dinner.

When buying scallops, check labels and ask your fishmonger for dry scallops, which means fresh ones that are not chemically treated; they will sear properly. Wet scallops are treated with sodium tripolyphosphate, a chemical that causes the scallops to expel water when cooked and can prevent a proper sear.

Can’t find scallops near you? Try this recipe with trout, bass or salmon.

The grapefruit juice is especially good here, but any citrus juice works instead, as would pomegranate juice.

– 16 to 20 dry-packed sea scallops

– Fine salt

– Three tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

– Six tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed

– Three-quarter cup fresh grapefruit juice

– One and a half teaspoons finely grated grapefruit zest

– Two small radishes, thinly sliced

– One teaspoon mild chilli flakes

– Flaky sea salt, for serving

Remove the side muscle from each scallop by pulling it off with your thumb and fingers. Pat each scallop dry and season lightly all over with the salt.

In a large, stainless steel skillet over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil until you see a wisp of smoke. Using tongs, arrange the scallops around the pan in a clockwise rotation, starting at 12 o’clock. Press down on each one lightly, but don’t move them. After two to four minutes – depending on the size of the scallops – you should see the edges become deep golden brown. Flip the scallops over so the other side can brown, an additional two to three minutes.

Transfer the scallops to a platter or divide among four plates and keep warm. Pour out the excess oil and let the skillet cool for one minute.

Return the skillet to medium heat and add the butter, letting it melt. Using a wooden spoon, scrape up any brown bits left over from searing the scallops. (This will give the sauce more flavour.) The butter will foam, then, after about one minute, it will start to smell toasty and will have browned.

Add the grapefruit juice – taking care as it may splatter a bit – and cook, whisking, until the sauce reduces and thickens, two to three minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the grapefruit zest. Taste, and season the sauce with salt, if desired.

Pour the sauce over the scallops and scatter the radish slices on top. Sprinkle with the chile flakes, flaky sea salt, if using, and drizzle with more olive oil.

Nutrition information per serving | Calories: 336; Total Fat: 28g; Saturated Fat: 12g; Cholesterol: 72mg; Sodium: 518mg; Carbohydrates: 8g; Dietary Fibre: 0g; Sugar: 0g; Protein: 14g.