I’m hooked on the Santa Monica Seafood Market.
It throws me back to the days when I was 4 years old, running around the pier looking in people’s buckets to see how many fish they had caught. Usually it was just one or two mackerel, but every once in a while, I’d stumble upon a guy who had caught the mother lode of fish. That made me happy (for about 30 seconds).
At SMS, it’s the mother lode of fish all the time. This place has EVERYTHING you could possibly imagine (except seahorses and dolphins), super fresh and stocked high in abundance. Sometimes I think the guy who owns this place must be Jesus because he has so many fishes.
We’ve gotten in this little tradition where we pop in every Wednesday after the farmer’s market, then make a picnic lunch of fresh fish, fruits & veggies. Last week – Swordfish tacos. This week I’m thinking some citrus-herb tuna.
Every once in a while, I throw in a few scallops. Josh doesn’t really like them, but for me, they’re fish candy. Sweet, juicy, tender… the bay scallops at SMSM are perfection.
But how do you make something so perfect even better?
These aren’t the traditional bacon-wrapped scallops you may have seen before. In fact, if I didn’t tell you, you wouldn’t even know this dish included bacon, you’d just wonder how the scallops tasted so sweet-savory-caramelized-delicious.
The secret is… bacon FAT. Yep. I said it. I meant it.
I’ve got a jar of it.
Yes, it sounds horrifying, I know. But don’t knock it till you’ve tried it… it’s one of the best cooking fats there is, especially for grilling scallops, shrimp, lobster, etc. You can even use a little bacon fat to grill up a panini or grilled cheese and I guarantee you’ll never go back to butter or oil. It adds something magical.
If you’re interested in having a steady stock of rendered bacon fat on hand for emergencies (and who isn’t?!?!) just save some in a mason jar in the freezer, and add to it every time you make bacon. After you fry the bacon, simply pour the bacon fat through a fine mesh sieve into the jar and freeze.
If you don’t have a jar of bacon fat on hand, you can fry a couple pieces of bacon and just use that pan for grilling… basically the same thing.
Here’s what I made the other day – it was surprisingly quick & easy to throw together, great for a light weeknight meal.
Grilled Scallops with Grapefruit & Rosemary over Cousous
- 8 scallops (I usually plan on 2 per person for appetizers, more if it’s the main course)
- 1 grapefruit
- 4 rosemary branches
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- Bacon fat for grilling
- 8 oz Israeli couscous
- 1 shallot
- Olive oil
- 1-2 lemons
- 1/4 cup italian parsley, chopped
- Kosher salt
Prep scallops: prep the scallops by rinsing under cold water and patting dry. Remove the side muscle – that little extra part on the side with the tougher texture (exhibit #1) – and discard. Place scallops in a medium bowl.
Prep skewers: make the rosemary skewers by removing the leaves from the bottom 3 inches of the branch. To do this, simply pinch the branch 3″ from the bottom and slide your fingers down the branch, easily stripping off the leaves. Set leaves aside for the marinade. Using a cleaver or heavy chef’s knife, cut the bottom of each rosemary branch on the diagonal so it’s sharp enough to skewer the scallops (just whack it really hard keeping your fingers out of the way).
Prep marinade: For the marinade, finely chop one clove of garlic. Add 1 tsp kosher salt, 1 tablespoon of rosemary leaves, and 1 tablespoon grapefruit zest, arranging it all in a mound on your cutting board (exhibit #2). Chop the whole pile of stuff until it is finely minced and integrated like so.
Marinate Scallops: Drizzle the scallops with olive oil, tossing to coat. Add the grapefruit-rosemary mixture and stir so all scallops are coated. Refrigerate for at least 10 minutes up to 30 minutes (any longer and I find the grapefruit flavor gets too strong).
Make couscous: While the scallops are marinating, make the Israeli couscous. Finely mince one shallot, then saute it in a little olive oil until golden. Add couscous, saute a couple minutes longer until couscous is golden, then continue prep according to the box instructions. Once it’s done, toss it with the juice of 1-2 lemons (to your liking), sea salt & chopped parsley to taste. Prep the grapefruit segments for serving (here’s how)
Grill scallops: When you’re ready for the scallops, heat the bacon fat in a grill pan over medium-high heat. Place 2 scallops on each rosemary skewer (exhibit #3). Once bacon fat is hot, add scallops – they should sizzle immediately, if not, let the grill pan heat longer (a hot pan is the key to perfectly seared, not-overcooked scallops). Grill for about 2-3 minutes per side, until nicely browned on the outside (exhibit #4) and just cooked through on the inside.
Serve: Serve scallops on a bed of Israeli couscous topped with grapefruit segments. So summer-y fresh!
p.s. this dish pairs wonderfully with the Cotes de Tablas Blanc we picked up in Paso Robles this SpringPin It