Seafood is a first-rate choice for appetizers. From fried clam strips to seared ahi, operators can find the right fit for menus in terms of food costs, preparation requirements and presentation.
This article first appeared in the 15 April 2006 issue of Restaurants & Institutions (R&I).
R&I is the USA's leading source of food and business-trend information and exclusive research on operators and restaurant patrons. Editorial coverage spans the entire foodservice industry, including chains, independent restaurants, hotels and institutions. To find out more about R&I, visit its website www.foodservice411.com.
With overnight shipping quickly dispatching the world's watery treasures, exotic species are within easy reach of those with deep pockets and a taste for adventure. But patrons and operators alike show strong affinity for frozen products such as shrimp, lobster and calamari.
Deep-fried favourites are strong sellers in casual settings, where guests savor choices such as crisp calamari and coconut shrimp. On upscale menus, regulars include raw-bar selections and shellfish, such as the meaty scallops Executive Chef John Fraser features in a spring-themed starter at Compass in New York City.
To prepare scallops for searing, first make sure the tough muscle, or foot, is removed from the side. Rinse, pat dry and season simply with salt and pepper or dredge in plain or seasoned flour.
For the best results, thaw frozen scallops under refrigeration overnight. Running frozen seafood under cold water can speed the process.
Pan searing remains a popular preparation for scallops, but for variation, try recipes that call for baking, deep-frying or stir-frying.
1. Hot, hot, hot
Stainless-steel, copper or cast-iron skillets are top picks for searing scallops. Pat scallops dry and season lightly before cooking. Heat oil or butter before scallops are added to the pan.
2. Browning points When scallops are opaque on the sides and translucent in the center, flip them quickly and caramelize the other sides. Add a pat of butter for basting to keep scallops moist as they cook.
3. Good company
Match finished scallops with ingredients that don't overpower their delicacy. Meyer-lemon puree, fava beans, piquillo peppers and frisee salad accompany Executive Chef John Fraser's scallops.