Being a midwesterner, I never had scallops until I moved to the east coast. I've since fallen in love with a well-cooked scallop - a nice sear on both sides and a silky interior with a delicate taste. This recipe is based on Aki Kamozawa and Alexander Talbot's Twice-Cooked Scallops in their book Ideas in Food. The technique as presented in the book is sous-vide, a French term which means "under vacuum." Sous-vide techniques are used to slowly cook a food at a low temperature for a longer period of time to impart a more evenly cooked, tender texture to foods. Professional chefs will seal a piece of meat or veggies in a vacuum bag with some spices or brine and cook the food at a controlled temperature, often ahead of time, to save time in the kitchen during service, but the technique can be adapted to the home kitchen quite easily. While not gaining all the benefits of vacuum sealing, the home cook can place the food in a ziplock baggie, squeezing as much air out as possible to achieve a similar effect. If you have a food-saver vacuum device, go ahead and skip the ziplock and seal away. The pre-cooking here serves to par-cook the scallops so you can sear them later and not have to worry about over-cooking the meat. Don't skip the brine either, it seasons and tenderizes, and if you use soy sauce or add other spices to the liquid, you're in for a treat. For the seasonings, you can use just salt and pepper and end up with a delicious meal, but use your imagination and see what happens. I used Japanese togarishi powder, which is a mix of two types of red pepper, nori seaweed, black sesame seeds, hemp seeds, and toasted orange peel - amazing when seared in sesame oil. The recipe below may seem a little intimidating at first, but if you can mix salt and water, boil water, and get a pan nice and hot, you can definitely make a good meal.

Twice-Cooked Scallops

8 scallops, ~1.5inch diameter
2 tbsp + 2 tsp sea salt
4 cups water

Combine the salt and water. Brine the scallops in the saltwater for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat a pot of water to 122 degrees F. While not critical that the water is exactly 122, get as close as you can and try to keep it there, as you'll experience better results. When the scallops are brined, pat dry and arrange them end to end in groups of 4 to make a log.  Wrap tightly in saran wrap, squeezing out as much air as possible. Place the scallops log in a ziplock bag and seal, again squeezing out as much air as possible. If there is air left in the bag, the heat from the water will not transfer as efficiently and undercook the food. Place the scallop bags in the 122-degree water and cook for 30 minutes, adjusting the flame as needed to keep the temperature as controlled as possible. When done, submerge the bags in ice water until cool. Remove the scallops from the bag and saran wrap.  At this point, you can keep the scallops in a sealed container in the fridge for up to two days. When ready to cook, heat a on medium-high heat and add your oil or butter. Season your scallops however you wish. When the fat is nice and hot, sear the scallops 3-5 minutes a side. Let rest a few minutes, and enjoy.

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