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Brown Butter Scallops on Cauliflower "Risotto"

I love a challenge. I was asked by MSC (the Marine Stewardship Council) to throw a little #OceanToPlate dinner for friends using MSC certified seafood and because that felt too easy, I chose to invite my friend who claims to hate seafood. To add to the challenge, she and her husband are on a restrictive diet at the moment and so they couldn't have rice, potatoes, beets, or pasta which are all my usual suspects when I am feeding them.

I have made them cauliflower "rice" before and they loved it so I took that one step further and turned the magical white chameleon into a faux risotto and it was really, really good. Okay, it's not as creamy as a real risotto using arborio rice but it's delicious in it's own right and we would all happily eat it again and again. You could throw in peas, other vegetables, mushrooms etc for a low/no carb rice substitute - if you would put it in a risotto, you can use it with cauliflower.

Cooking the scallops in the sous vide turns them into buttery little velvet pillows of delight that only require a quick sear or a kiss from a blow torch after they emerge from their water bath and I also love that I don't know to worry about timing. Because scallops cook so fast in a frying pan, it's easy to overcook them without realizing it but since you leave them in the water for an hour and they still okay resting in there for another half an hour, you have plenty of time to get the rest of your dishes together without any worry of turning your scallops into erasers.

I also made an app of Fish and Chips Cakes, with beer poached MSC certified Pacific Cod so go here to read more about MSC and get the recipe for those. There is also a giveway for a $100 Loblaws gift card so that you can also meet the challenge, host a seafood dinner of your own #OceanToPlate dinner party and share the love. Click here to get the recipe and enter the giveaway!

Brown Butter Scallops on Cauliflower "Risotto"

serves 4-6


1 lb MSC certified scallops
3 tbls salted butter

Melt the butter in a small pan until it turns a nice, nutty brown. Remove from heat and let it cool to room temp.
Heat your sous vide bath to 122F

Put the scallops in a bowl with the cooled brown butter and stir well to make sure they are evenly coated in the butter.

Lay your scallops out in your plastic bag (you can vacuum pack with a vacuum sealer but do it on  manual so you can remove the air gently without totally squashing them). If you use ziplock bags, I remove the air, after I have arranged the contents, by zipping up almost all the way and inserting a straw in the bag. I suck out all of the air and quickly zip up the last little bit as i quickly remove the straw.

Put the bags in the water and sous vide 122F for 1 hr (you can leave them in there another half hour or 45 minutes after the hour but not much longer than that)

Remove the scallops, heat a frying pan over med high heat and sear the scallops quickly on both sides - you are not cooking them, just getting some colour on them. You don't need to add fat to the pan because the scallops are coated in brown butter.

Alternatively, you can sear them quickly with a blow torch.

*if you don't have a sous vide contraption, you can just sear the scallops. Dry them off with paper towel, sprinkle with some kosher salt, heat a frying pan over high heat, add 1 tbls butter and 1 tbl oil and then put in the scallops. Make sure there is space around each one or they will steam and sear them for about 1 minute, flip them and do the other side for another minute.

Cauliflower Risotto:

2 tbls olive oil
100 grams pancetta, diced
3 shallots, sliced
2 garlic , sliced
1 large head (or 2 small) cauliflower
1/4 cup white wine
3/4 tpo 1 cup chicken stock
about 1 tbls fresh thyme
1/2 cup grated parmesan
2 tbls cold butter

** I got about 7 cups of pulsed cauliflower from 1 large head.
To prep cauliflower:
remove the stem and leaves, break up into florets and drop them in the in food processor. Pulse until it resembles rice and set aside.

Heat a large, deep saute pan over med heat and add in the olive oil. Cook the pancetta until it starts to get brown and crisp before adding in the shallots and garlic. Saute for another minute and then throw in the cauliflower. Turn up the heat to med high and cook the cauliflower for a few minutes, stirring almost constantly. At that point, pour in the wine and stir until the wine is evaporated before adding in the chicken stockand the thyme. Start with 3/4 cup, cover , lower the heat back to medium and cook, covered, for about 5 or 6 minutes. Remove the lid and taste it. If it is cooked to your liking, check to make sure there isn't a ton of liquid left. If there is, crank the heat back up to med high and cook until that liquid is almost gone then remove from the heat and stir in the cheese and the butter.

Serve in a shallow bowl and top each bowl with some of the scallops and a sprig or two of thyme. Serve.

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