About 10 years ago, at Tulio Ristorante in downtown Seattle, I had a memorable pasta dish featuring the herb marjoram; it was just a small, fragrant amount tossed with butter and fresh pasta, but so many years later I can still smell its perfume.
Oregano’s sexier sister, as marjoram is sometimes called, is also a favorite of Jerry Traunfeld, former executive chef at The Herbfarm Restaurant, who taught me to combine it with carrots. There is something about the earthy sweetness of carrots paired with the delicate pine notes of marjoram that really works. The addition of sweet, briny scallops to that already solid combination blows this dish right out of the water.
- 1/2 pound carrots, cut into large dice (about 2 cups)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup cream
- freshly ground pepper
- 1 large carrot, sliced into short ribbons using a vegetable peeler (about 1 cup)
- 1/4 cup seasoned rice wine vinegar
- 1 pound sea scallops
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 tablespoon high-heat vegetable oil
- 3/4 cup packed fresh Italian parsley leaves
- 1 tablespoon fresh marjoram leaves
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup neutral vegetable oil, such as canola or safflower
For the carrot cream
Add the carrots and salt to a medium saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook for 7 to 8 minutes, or until the carrots are tender.
Drain the carrots and add them to a blender along with the cream and a pinch of pepper to taste. Blend until the mixture is a very smooth purée and set aside.
For the pickled carrots
In a medium bowl, toss the carrots with the rice wine vinegar. Marinate the carrots for at least 20 minutes. Drain, reserving the vinegar for another use, and set aside.
For the scallops
Dry the scallops with paper towels. Place them on a plate and season generously with salt and pepper. Heat a heavy skillet over high heat. Add the vegetable oil and, when it is really hot, carefully add the scallops to the pan, being careful not to splatter oil on yourself or crowd the pan with too many scallops.
Cook the scallops for 2 minutes on one side without disturbing them, or until they are caramelized, then flip, cooking the other side for only a minute or so more.
For the herb oil
In a blender, combine the parsley, marjoram, olive oil, vegetable oil and salt. Blend until the oil turns a vibrant green color, about 3 minutes. You can strain the oil through a fine-mesh strainer if you’d like or leave it with some texture.
Transfer the oil to a bowl, or if you’d like to be all fancy-pants, feel free to transfer it to a squeeze bottle.
To assemble the dish, gently reheat the carrot cream, then spoon some on each of 4 plates. Top each plate with several scallops.
Drizzle some herb oil around the scallops and garnish with a sprinkling of pickled carrots and marjoram leaves.
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