Fennel Pollen-Dusted Sea Scallops

Fennel Pollen-dusted Sea Scallops
with Squash Angel Hair & Grenoble Sauce

A huge fan of craft beer, specifically San Diego craft beer, I’m always looking to turn people on to it, not only as a fine beverage, but a great accompaniment to food and ingredient in recipes…like this one. A more petite version of this dish was served as the amuse bouche for a big beer-pairing dinner I developed all of the recipes for at Trattoria Acqua last summer. It was a huge hit and is a recipe I’ve prepared at home several times since. Instead of white wine, I like to use a local saison-style ale (usually Carnevale Ale from The Lost Abbey in San Marcos). It does a great job of working with the natural tartness of the lemon juice and balancing, rather than adding to, the acidity of the capers.

Yield – 8 servings

2 zucchini, mandolin-sliced into thin noodles
2 yellow squash, mandolin-sliced into thin noodles
2 tsp unsalted butter
2 tsp olive oil (garlic-infused, if available)
16 sea scallops
2 Tbsp fennel pollen (or fennel pollen spice blend, such as M Ocean, to substitute)
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 tsp extra olive oil
¼ cup shallot, finely diced
2 Tbsp capers, rinsed of brine
½ cup saison-style beer (or dry white wine to substitute)
¼ cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1 cup unsalted butter, diced into ¼-ounce cubes
1 tsp Italian parsley, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 200° F.

Bring lightly salted water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the zucchini and yellow squash and blanch for 1 minute. Remove from water and set aside in a strainer to drain.

Melt the butter in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Stir in the oil and bring up to temperature. Season the scallops with the fennel pollen and salt on both sides and place in the pan. Sear until golden brown on each side, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Remove scallops from the pan and place in oven to hold.

Heat the oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the shallot and capers, season with pepper, and sauté, stirring, for 1 minute. Deglaze with the beer and lemon juice and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and reduce the liquid by half. Whisk in the butter, a cube at a time, until it is fully incorporated. Season with salt and pepper as needed and stir in the parsley. Add the zucchini and yellow squash to the sauce and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

To serve, spoon a mound of angel hair in the center of a bowl and place 2 scallops on top. Serve immediately.

–      Recipe courtesy Brandon Hernández