Sizzling in a crisp coat of Asian breadcrumbs, sweet Alaska scallops are superimposed against a bed of slightly bitter greens tossed in an Asian-style oil-free dressing. The flavors, the textures, and the contrast between tasty fried food and healthy salad greens make for a lively salad indeed. In summer use fresh arugula from a farmer’s market; in winter opt for a head of crispy frisée.
- 1 head frisée (curly endive), or 1 bunch arugula
- 8 very large Alaska scallops (about 12 ounces total)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons water
- ½ cup unbleached white flour
- 1 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
- 1 cup canola oil
- 1/3 cup julienned papaya
- 1 medium tomato, quartered, seeded, and cut into ¼-inch strips
- ¼ cup crystallized ginger, cut into fine julienne strips
- ¼ cup boiling water
- 1 cup rice vinegar
- ½ cup corn syrup
- 1 tablespoon salt
1. Cut the base off the head of frisée and tear the leaves into bite-size pieces. If using arugula, pick through the bunch to remove any damaged or yellow leaves. Plunge the torn greens into a sink full of cold water, swish them around, then lift them out, leaving any soil or debris behind. Spin the washed greens until they’re dry, then put them in a salad bowl, cover with a damp paper towel, and refrigerate until just before serving time.
2. Cut each scallop horizontally across the grain into 3 slices to make 24 “coins.” Sprinkle the scallop coins with the salt and pepper. Crack the egg into a small bowl, beat it with a fork, and stir in the water. Put the flour in a second bowl and the panko breadcrumbs in a third. Roll the cut scallops in the flour and shake off the excess; then dip them in the egg mixture, making sure the whole surface is covered. Roll the flour-and-egg-coated scallops in panko to coat, and lay them in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with baker’s parchment. (The scallops can be prepared ahead up to this point and held, refrigerated, for several hours. If you prepare them ahead, make sure they do not touch or the coating will come off when they are moved.)
3. Make the vinaigrette. In a small bowl, cover the sliced ginger with the boiling water and set aside to stand for 5 minutes, or until the ginger is slightly softened. Stir in the vinegar, corn syrup and salt.
4. In a heavy skillet, heat the oil until a cube of bread floats immediately to the surface and begins to sizzle, or until a deep-fat thermometer registers 375°F. Fry the scallops, no more than 6 at a time, in the hot oil until crisp and golden, about 1 minute on each side. Set the fried scallops on a baking sheet lined with paper towels.
5. As soon as the scallops are fried, toss the greens with the vinaigrette and distribute them evenly among 4 serving plates. Top each salad with papaya strips and slivered tomatoes. Arrange the scallops on top of the dressed greens and serve at once.