Scallops in Tomato-Lime Butter Sauce
This scallop recipe blends the flavors of both Southeast Asian and Italian cuisines. The sauce, served over orzo, combines butter, tomatoes, lime juice and zest, fish sauce and a pinch of sugar for a distinctive flavor that's citrusy, salty and buttery all at once.
- 1-1/2 lbs dry sea scallops
- 6 tablespoons butter, divided
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 bunch green onions, chopped (about 1 cup)
- 1 cup diced tomatoes, undrained
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- Juice and zest of 2 fresh limes
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce (optional)
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
- 12 ounces orzo, cooked (see recipe notes)
Season the scallops on both sides with salt and pepper and set aside.
Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a saucepan over medium heat until foamy. Add the garlic and sauté until soft and fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the green onions and sauté, stirring continually, until soft, 1-1/2 minutes longer.
Add the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, lime juice, zest, fish sauce and sugar and combine well. Add the grape tomatoes and continue cooking for 3 to 4 minutes, just long enough for the fresh tomatoes to soften. Stir in the cilantro. Taste and add some salt if necessary along with a few grinds of fresh black pepper.
While the sauce cooks, heat the olive oil and remaining tablespoon of butter in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add the scallops in a single layer, being careful not to overcrowd the pan. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes per side (depending on the size), transferring them, one by one, to a plate as soon as they are cooked through. Cover loosely with foil to keep warm while you finish cooking the rest of the scallops.
To serve, spoon some sauce onto each of 4 plates. Top with orzo, then scallops, then a bit more sauce.
Makes 4 servings
If you normally cook orzo by boiling it according to the package directions, give this method a try for some added flavor. Heat a little olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the dry orzo and cook until it turns golden brown, about 5 to 6 minutes. Add 4 cups of low-sodium chicken broth and simmer, covered, over medium-low heat until the liquid is fully absorbed, about 15 minutes. Add a tablespoon of butter and season to taste with salt and pepper.
For even more flavor, add some chopped onion and garlic to the orzo as it browns for added flavor.