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  • Nigella Seed Scallops with Pickled Fennel

    Nigella Seed Scallops with Pickled Fennel and Puffed Rice

    Because scallops are mild they are complimented nicely by the floral flavor of the nigella seeds, which also lend a little crunch. The anise-like flavor of the pickled fennel also goes well with the scallops and the puffed rice soaks up all those terrific flavors together.

    Servings & Time

    • Servings 4
    • Prep 30 minutes
    • Cook 3 hours, including pickling


    For the Pickled Fennel
    • 6 cups water
    • Grated zest of 1 lemon
    • Juice of 1 orange
    • ½ cup rice vinegar
    • ⅓ cup mirin
    • 3 tablespoons sugar
    • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
    • 10 peppercorns
    • 3 Thai red chilis, split
    • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
    • 1 fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced
    For the Puffed Rice
    • ½ teaspoon olive oil
    • Pinch chili powder
    • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
    • Sea salt
    • 1 cup puffed rice
    For the Scallops
    • 1 tablespoon rice flour
    • 1 teaspoon nigella seeds
    • 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
    • 4 large very fresh sea scallops
    • Brioche slices, toasted (optional)


    For the Pickled Fennel

    In a medium saucepan, combine the water, lemon zest, orange juice, vinegar, mirin, sugar, salt, peppercorns, chilis, and thyme and bring to a boil. Add the sliced fennel, reduce to a very low flame, and simmer for 3 hours, until they are soft and have a pronounced pickled flavor. The pickled fennel can be made up to a week ahead; cover and refrigerate.

    For the Puffed Rice

    In a medium bowl, combine the olive oil with the chile powder, pepper, and salt. Add the puffed rice and stir to combine.

    For the Scallops

    In a small bowl, combine the rice flour, nigella seeds, salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons water. You should have a very loose batter, about the consistency of half and half. Add more water if necessary.

    Heat the grapeseed oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Dip each scallop in the nigella seed batter and place in the pan to sear on one side for about 30 seconds.

    Using a large spoon, turn the scallops on their side and continue to sear them, basting with the oil and rolling them to sear on the sides.

    Finally, turn the scallops to the remaining side and cook just long enough to sear. The scallops should be lightly browned but not cooked through.

    To Plate

    Divide the pickled fennel among 4 plates. Thinly slice each scallop and arrange on the fennel.

    Sprinkle the puffed rice around the plate. Serve with toasted slices of brioche.

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