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Make restaurant-style seared scallops at home

In my last "What's Cooking" post, I demonstrated a healthy and delicious recipe for cooking fish in parchment paper, called Poisson En Papillote.

Now... let's talk fish recipes that are, well, a tad less healthy. I have plenty (are we shocked again?). An entire week of class was dedicated to studying and cooking fish. I thought it'd be fun to share a recipe and some tips from the other two classes!

Seared Scallops with a Parsley Sauce on the Side
Adapted from The International Culinary Center

Picture courtesy of my classmate Michelle Velasquez Cinotti.

Tip: Dry your scallops well with paper towels. Get your pan very hot before adding the oil. Add only enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Heat the oil up a little, and place your scallop down. You want to hear that sizzle noise! Hold the scallop in place with your fingers (be careful, pan will be hot!) to keep it upright. When you are confident it will stay upright, you can let go. Don't move it until it's time to flip. After a few minutes, flip with a spatula and repeat.

Yield: 4 Servings

  • 8 to 12 sea scallops

  • 1 1/2 cup water

  • 1 cup white wine

  • 1/2 cup sliced onion, about half a medium onion

  • 1/2 cup sliced carrot, about 1 small carrot

  • 1 small bunch thyme

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns

  • 1 bunch parsley leaves, stems reserved

  • 3 teaspoons olive oil

  • 2 shallots, finely diced

  • 1 medium mushroom, finely sliced

  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

  • Lemon juice

1. Blanch parsley leaves for 1 minute in boiling water until they are green and somewhat tender. Drain, shock in cold water, and drain again. Squeeze the excess moisture from the leaves.

2. Place water, white wine, onion, carrot, thyme, bay leaf, parsley stems and peppercorns in a small pot and simmer on low for 30 minutes. It will reduce down to a small amount of syrup. Strain.

3. Warm 2 teaspoons of the oil in a small saute pan and cook shallots and mushrooms gently without achieving any color. Add 1/2 cup of the reduced wine broth (above) and simmer until the mushrooms are very tender. Remove from the heat and cool until warm.

4. Pour the contents of the pan into a blender and puree for 30 to 60 seconds. Add the blanched and squeezed parsley and continue processing until a smooth puree is achieved. Pour the contents into the same pan and season to taste. Add a few drops of lemon juice.

5. Add some of the remaining oil to a saute pan (just enough to coat the bottom) and sear the seasoned scallops, nicely crusting the 2 flat surfaces.

4. Reheat the parsley sauce and add serve with scallops.

Braised Flounder with White Wine, Shallots and Cream
Adapted from The International Culinary Center

Tip: Before your fish is fully cooked, you will remove it from the heat and let it rest as your sauce reduces. You'll know the fish has reached this point when only a small round of raw fish remains on top of the fillet. Best to let them rest on a slant: take a plate, turn it upside down, and place it in a big bowl so it is on an angle. Place the fish carefully on the plate so that while it rests, some of the liquid will drain off the fish. Cover the fish with the parchment paper lid to keep warm.

Yield: 4 Servings

  • Fish stock

  • 4 flounder fillets

  • 1 small shallot, finely diced

  • 1/3 cup button mushrooms, finely sliced

  • 1 tablespoon butter

  • 3 tablespoons white wine

  • 7 oz heavy cream (a little more than 3/4 cup)

  • 1/4 cup whipped cream (whip heavy cream until fluffy!)

  • 1 tablespoon flat leaf parsley, chopped

  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

1. Brush the bottom of a saute pan with butter and sprinkle in the shallots and sliced mushrooms.

2. Place the fish fillets on top of the mushrooms and shallots. Fillets may be left flat or folded. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Add white wine and enough fish stock to come halfway up the sides of the fillets. Cover the pan with a parchment-paper lid (see video on making glazed vegetables!) and bring the liquid up to a simmer on the stove. Cook at a low simmer for 2 to 3 minutes or until slightly underdone (it will cook again in the reduced sauce!)

4. Begin to reduce the 7 oz heavy cream in a pot (until it thickens).

5. Remove the fish fillets from the pan, drain and keep them warm.

6. Reduce the cooking liquid until it begins to thicken about halfway down the side of the pan.

7. Add the reduced cream and continue to reduce until it is at the consistency that you want. Note: a good way to tell when your sauce is reduced enough - when your sauce sticks to the back of a spoon and you can draw a clean line down the middle.

8. Take it off the heat and let it cook slightly. Fold in a spoonful of the whipped cream per serving. Add the chopped parsley. Season to taste and add the lemon juice.

9. Place the fillets on an oven-safe plate and cover it with sauce, letting the mushrooms fall naturally over and around the top of the fillets. Slide plate under a broiler and heat until sauce glazes (browns a little bit.)