Chargrilled Scallops With Grilled Caramel Corn Sauce and Corn Relish


Recipe by Sanford D’Amato

Serves 4

For the caramel corn sauce:

  • 6 ears fresh market corn
  • 1 T. grapeseed oil
  • 5 c. water
  • 1 onion, peeled, ⅓  cut off in one piece, remaining cut in small dice for the corn relish
  • ¼ t. vanilla
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ cup honey
  • 6 T. (about 3 limes’ worth) fresh lime juice
  • ¼ c. cider vinegar
  • ¼ t. hot paprika
  • ½ t. salt
  • ¼ t. freshly ground pepper

For the corn relish:

  • 4 slices bacon (about 4 ounces), cut in julienne
  • ¼ t. hot paprika
  • 1 T. lime juice
  • 1 t. kosher salt, plus additional to taste
  • ¼ t. freshly ground black pepper, plus additional to taste
  • ¼ cup chiffonaded (cut in fine strips) fresh basil leaves

To finish the dish:

  • 24 oz. large sea scallops (about 18–20)
  • 3–4 T. grapeseed or other neutral oil
  • 1 t. ground fennel seeds
  • 1 t. sweet paprika

To prepare the caramel corn sauce:

Prepare and light your grill.

When the coals are ready for high-heat cooking, shuck the corn. Brush the ears with the grapeseed oil. Place the ears on the very hot grill for 1 min., rolling them to char evenly. Cut the kernels off the cobs (you should have about 4 c. of kernels, divide them into two parts, each 2 c.). Reserve cobs.

Cut the reserved cobs in half and put them into a medium sauce pot with the ⅓ piece of onion, the vanilla and the bay leaf. Add 1 c. water into the sauce pot. (This is the amount of liquid you want to end up with after the reduction step.)

Add the remaining 4 c. water. Bring up to a low boil and cook until it is reduced to 1 c. of corn stock. Strain and reserve.

Place a small sauce pot over high heat. Add the honey and cook carefully, swirling the pan until the honey caramelizes to a dark golden color (do not burn). Immediately add 2 c. of the corn kernels and stir in. Let cook for 1 min. Add 6 T. of the lime juice, the cider vinegar, ¼ teaspoon of the hot paprika, ½ teaspoon of the salt, ¼ teaspoon of the pepper and the reserved 1 c. corn stock. Reduce to 1 c. total to make the caramel corn sauce (the corn kernels should shrink considerably as the sauce reduces, but if you are using out-of-season corn, those kernels will not shrink as much). Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper and reserve. You can cover and refrigerate until needed. Reheat just before using.

To make the corn relish:

Place a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until light gold. Remove from the pan and with a slotted spoon to paper towel-lined plate.

Turn the heat under the pan to high. Add the diced onion and sauté for about 1 min. Add the remaining 2 c. of corn, the remaining ¼ t. of hot paprika, the remaining 1 t. of salt, and the remaining ¼ t. of pepper, and sauté 30 sec. Add the remaining 1 T. of lime juice, the bacon pieces, and the basil, and toss to make the corn relish. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper and remove to a plate to cool. You can make this several hours ahead, but leave the basil out until just before serving.

To finish the dish:

Preheat a grill to very hot (when you can hold the palm of your hand over the fire for only 2 to 3 sec. before moving it away; alternatively you may use a grill pan). Place the scallops on a plate and toss them with enough oil to lightly moisten. Mix the ground fennel and sweet paprika together and season, along with salt and pepper, both sides of scallops. Brush the grill and clean the grates with an oil-soaked cloth. Place the scallops on the grill and cook for about 1½ to 2 min. per side, depending on thickness of the scallops, until nicely marked and just warm in the center.

Divide the corn relish between 4 plates. Divide the scallops onto plates and serve warm with the caramel corn sauce around and over scallops.

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