Grilled sea scallops drizzled with a green garlic-infused brown butter sauce and topped with spring onions, fresh sorrel and a squeeze of lime.
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter
1 fresh green garlic stalk (see notes for substitutions)
2 spring onions (see notes for substitutions)
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt, plus more for the scallops
1/4 cup olive oil
2 pounds sea scallops, rinsed and patted dry
Ground black pepper
1 cup of fresh green sorrel leaves that have been cut into chiffonade (very thin strips)
2 limes, cut into wedges
1. Make the brown butter sauce:
Warm the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until it melts and foams up. As the foam subsides, turn the heat to medium-low, adjusting the heat as needed so that the butter begins to turn a light brown in the pan but does not burn. (A stainless steel pan is great for this so you can easily keep an eye on the color.)
Separate the green garlic stalk from the clove (set the clove aside for another use or see note below), and cut the stalk into sections about 4 inches long. Cut each stalk section vertically into fourths, then cut each of these thin pieces into shorter pieces about 1-2 inches long. Add them to the butter.
Separate the bulb from the green stems of the spring onion. Slice the green stems crosswise into thin rounds and reserve for serving. Dice the white bulb (you should have about 1/2 cup when diced) and add it to the butter.
Stir 1/8 teaspoon coarse salt into the butter mixture, turn the heat to low, and allow all the flavors to mingle and steep together while you work on the scallops.
2. Grill the scallops:
Set up the grill to have a medium-high heat zone and a lower heat zone. Preheat the grill and scrub the grates clean.
Pour the olive oil onto a plate that is large enough to hold all the scallops (or two smaller plates), allowing the oil to pool on the plate. Set the scallops in the oil, then turn them to coat them evenly. Generously salt and pepper the scallops. String the scallops onto skewers, about 4 scallops to a skewer.
Lay each skewer directly onto the grill grate in the medium-high heat zone. Use a long pair of tongs to check the scallops frequently. Your goal is to brown them without over-cooking them. As they brown, they will release from the grate. Check and move the scallops around the grill as needed (and as they release) so that the scallops on each skewer are roughly equally browned. Turn over each skewer when ready, to brown the scallops on the other side. When the scallops are browned, move them to the lower heat zone if they need to cook longer; otherwise remove them. Scallops are done when they are nicely browned on at least one side, and have firmed up into a well-formed disk. Do not over-cook, or they may dry out and/or become chewy.
3. Finish the dish:
Arrange the scallops onto four plates. Strain the solids from the butter sauce and drizzle the butter over the scallops on each plate. Top each serving with one-fourth of the sorrel leaves and green spring onions. Squeeze one lime wedge over each plate of scallops and serve with additional lime wedges.
If you don't have access to green garlic, you can use a small regular garlic clove. Cut it into small pieces and add them to the butter along with the onions. Keep a close eye on the brown butter to be sure the garlic does not burn (which would cause the sauce to turn bitter).
Feel free to add one or two green garlic cloves along with the stalk! I didn't do this, simply because on the day I was creating this recipe I had a house full of distractions (ahem, kids) and didn't want to risk burning the garlic - but I think it would be lovely. Let me know in the comments if you add it to yours!
If you don't have access to spring onions, you can use a combination of yellow or white onions where the recipe calls for the bulb, and scallions where it calls for the spring onion stems. If using yellow onions, you may want to use a bit less or take them out of the butter a little earlier, since they're stronger than spring onions. You can taste the butter sauce and let your palate decide.
Feel free to pan sear instead of grilling if you don't have a grill or it's not grilling weather - or if you just can't stand the thought of losing any of those delicious scallop juices! You can follow the pan-searing instructions in this recipe. Include any accumulated juices along with the scallops on each plate, before adding the butter sauce, etc.
When I created this recipe, I expected to finish it with a squeeze of lemon instead of lime, but didn't have any on hand (because my daughter uses them to make lemonade faster than I can replace them!). As it turns out, the lime was PERFECT! But if you want to try it with lemon, I think that would also be delicious - let me know in the comments!
This whole brown-butter-sorrel-spring-onion-squeeze-of-lime treatment would probably also be great on any flaky white fish, chicken or pork chops, or maybe even steak! It's really yummy. :)