Seared scallops with spicy zucchini “noodles” and shrimp… plus wine pairings


Ok, so right off the bat I’ll address the picture and say it’s not the prettiest dish I’ve ever made (I’ll do better next time)… but I have to say it was pretty damn delicious! Not to mention that it was… wait for it… HEALTHY! Holy crap, are you on the right website? Isn’t this the guy that cooks everything with butter, bacon, and even rendered bacon fat!?!? Yeah… that’s me, but when the wife asked for something a little more waistline friendly this was what I came up with. Honestly I had absolutely no plans on sharing this recipe, but when I posted the dish on Facebook I received a number of requests for it… so here goes!

Serves: 2

*Note: It is preferable to use “dry”  scallops for higher quality and less shrinkage, but they might not always available in some markets. Unfortunately the fish market near my house was closed already so I had to rely on the local supermarket for my scallops, which accounts for the size in the photo… meh.

8 Large Sea Scallops
1tsp Salt
1tsp Ground Black Pepper

1/2 Small Red Onion, sliced
1c Red Wine Vinegar
2tbsp Granulated Sugar

1tbsp Olive Oil
1/3lb Shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 Zucchini, peeled and “noodled” (I’ll go into more detail below)
2 Jalapenos, seeded and chopped
2 Cloves Garlic, chopped
2tsp Salt, in two equal portions
1tsp Ground Black Pepper
1tsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
1tsp Ground Cayenne Pepper
1/3c Cilantro, chopped
3tbsp Lemon Juice, separate into 1tbsp & 2tbsp portions
1/3c Chicken Stock
1 Lemon for zesting

Heat oven to 350F.

Ok, so first things first, let’s make the zucchini noodles. I used a mandolin to make my noodles with a large julienne attachment. I understand that many of you won’t have that piece of equipment in your kitchen, so there is another option. Using your peeler, peel your zucchini longways into this strips rotating the zucchini a few degrees after each peel. The reason for rotating is to prevent you from creating wider surface for the peel because then your noodles will be too big. If you have a mandolin great (just be careful, those things are dangerous!), just run your already peeled zucchini along it using the large julienne attachment and viola. Keep the noodles pretty thin in terms of thickness (not width). If you don’t have that attachment you can just use the standard blade and cut the zucchini slices into noodles by hand with a knife. Put the noodles in a bowl with water and 1tbsp of lemon juice and refrigerate until needed. The water and lemon prevents the zucchini from oxidizing.

Next let’s pickle the onions. In a small sauce pot bring your red wine vinegar to a simmer, add your onions and sugar. Cook on medium-low heat for 30 minutes then remove from heat and set aside.

Rinse your scallops and then let them rest on a towel to dry before cooking. Heat your olive oil at high heat in a sauté pan. Salt and pepper both sides of your scallops, then add them to the hot pan. Sear until the bottom is caramelized, approximately three minutes, then flip and sear an additional one minute. Put the scallops in the oven for 10 minutes to finish cooking.

When there is only five minutes left on the scallops you’ll start your side. Heat the other tablespoon of olive oil in a sauté pan at medium-high heat, add your shrimp, jalapeno and garlic, sprinkle with one teaspoon of salt. Cook until the garlic and jalapeno start to sweat, then add your noodles and the remainder of your seasoning and toss. Add your lemon juice and chicken stock, allow to simmer, stirring periodically. At the very end add your pickled red onion and cilantro and toss. Plate your scallops and noodles, then using a zester or fine cheese grater zest some fresh lemon over the plate.

Bon Appétit!

Ok, so let’s talk wine pairings. In my humble opinion you’ve got to go with a white on this one… there is too much spice and acidity, not to mention the subtle flavors of the seafood. All of my pairings below are going to be whites, but if you just HAVE to drink a red wine just make sure it’s light to medium bodied but not too acidic. If you take a high tone wine (red or white) and pair it with the lemon and pickled red onion, it will just be too much acidity and your palate will be overwhelmed.

LOLA Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast, CA – LOLA’s Chard is what we paired with this dish the night I made it. It shouldn’t come as a shocker for anyone that I’m recommending this wine, I made my affinity for it apparent by featuring it in my first ever “A wine you should know…” article. My reasoning for the pairing is threefold. First, the acidity of the wine is moderately subdued which allows the acidity of the dish to shine without becoming overwhelming. Secondly, it’s medium body helps stand up to the texture of the scallops. Lastly, the subtle candied lemon and Gala apple play beautifully with the lemon zest and hint of lemon juice in the noodles, while simultaneously balancing the spicy notes from the jalapeno, crushed red pepper and cayenne. As I said in my article, this wine isn’t the easiest to find with only 1,400 cases produced and minimal distribution throughout the States, but it’s definitely worth the hunt. You can also order online through their website, (Retail $19-25)

Domaine Huët Vouvray Demi-Sec Le Haut-Lieu , Loire, FR – Domaine Huët is the most storied name in Vouvray. The winery was founded by Victor Huët in 1928 and immediately established itself as the standard bearer of the appellation. While a number of producers in recent years have made a go at Huët’s title, no one has been able to wrest it from them. They are simply the best (cue Tina Turner). Their Demi-Sec from the Haut-Lieu vineyards is almost life changing, yeah, that good. The wine is medium to full bodied, with subtle notes of citrus zest. white peach, honeysuckle and crushed granite framed with a perfect harmony of citrus acidity and honeyed sweetness. Only 1,500 cases are made per vintage but despite this fact there is pretty strong distribution of the wine throughout the US and you should be able to get your hands on a bottle. Or, as I would recommend, buy every one you can find! Another beauty of this wine is that it can be laid down for another 15-20 years, and it should only get better! (Retail $34-40)

Boundary Breaks Riesling No.239 Dry, Finger Lakes, NY – Boundary Breaks is a newly established winery on the eastern shores of Seneca Lake in the Finger Lakes, and in my opinion, much like Huët did in Vouvray in 1928, Boundary Breaks have immediately established themselves as the top producer in the region. They are only in their second vintage, and the wines are beyond gorgeous. Bruce Murray’s dream was to create world class Riesling from New York State that could stand up to the top wineries of the Mosel and Alsace… Mission accomplished sir! So their No.239 Dry (No.239 referring to the Geisenheim 239 Riesling clone used for this bottling) is not a sweet Riesling, with only 0.6% residual sugar. It is beautifully floral and bright, but still has a slightly fuller mouth feel. On the palate you’ll find notes of Meyer lemon, orange blossom honey and white peach, as well as hints of smoke, tea leaves, and crushed granite. Production on these wines is TINY, with only 350 cases made of the No.239, so needless to say it’s going to be a challenge to find outside of New York… but for the rest of you there are a handful of boutiques that are selling the wine online, just let your fingers do the walking. And if you want to learn more about Bruce and BB, check out their website, it’s pretty awesome! (Retail $16-20)

So that’s my recipe and my wine pairings… I hope you’ve enjoyed the read, and hopefully you’ll make the dish and drink the wines! New content coming soon, but in the meantime crack open a bottle of an awesome small production white, sit back, relax, and eat seafood. Life is short, enjoy it!