Orange & fennel salad is a standard dish all over the world thanks to the Sicilians, who made it famous. But, many people don't know you can add many a protein to your heart's desire. The natural sweetness of the scallops makes for a lovely marriage in this case. But so would lobster....
Lukewarm Orange & Fennel Salad with Seared Scallops
6 scallops (side connective muscle removed)
300 g orange segments & juice (about 2 oranges)
60 g thinly shaved raw fennel (about 1 small fennel bulb)
6 large basil leaves - julienned
4 t aged balsamic vinegar
1 T extra virgin olive oil
1 T sunflower oil (or another high smoking point oil)
This dish is a smash hit and so very simple to make. Begin by pulling the connective muscle tissue off gently, so not to tear the scallop itself. Throw those away.
To segment an orange means to cut out the meat of the fruit without taking the connective casing that hold the fruit in its place. To do this, on the side of the orange with the naval, cut off about a 1/4 of an inch (1/2 of a centimeter). You want to expose the actual flesh when cutting. Repeat with the other side. You now have two open sides and just the middle to cut. With one side flat on the cutting board cut downward, where the peel and the flesh meet. You want to remove as much of the pith (white part) as you can. If it is not removed you cannot clearly see where you need to cut your segments out.
Get a bowl to place under your hands. Once all of the peel and pith is off, you can now hold the orange in your hand and cut out the segments. It will drip as you do so. Cut on the right side of one of the white lines, right next to where it and the flesh meet. Cut through to the middle of the orange. Then cut through again, right before the following line, which should free the segment. If not, you can sort of "jimmy" or push it out gently. Repeat this until all of the segments are out. Then squeeze the remaining juice out of the scraps into the bowl and set aside.
Cut the tops off of the fennel bulb. Carefully, mandoline or very thinly cut the fennel. Set in a separate mixing bowl and season with the olive oil and s&p. Toss around and set aside.
In a smoking hot, thick-bottomed pan with the sunflower oil, sear one side of the scallops leaving them untouched for a couple of minutes so they can properly sear and form a crust. Depending on their size you may need to just flip them and turn off the heat. They will finish cooking slowly on their own from the super hot pan. Once flipped then you can season with salt & pepper. Slice all of the basil. After a minute or two, remove the scallops to a plate and scrape out any chunky burnt bits with a spoon or a paper towel. Then, immediately, but gently, add the oranges and their juice to the same pan swirl once or twice and remove. This just heats it up quickly without cooking the fruit. Toss the fennel and basil into the bowl and plate. You can drizzle the vinegar yourself, if you desire. Or serve it on the spoon and leave it laying there for your guest to do themselves.
Tip if you wanted to up this dish, you could wrap the scallops in prosciutto for an extra layer of flavor.