San Francisco Sassy Scallops
A student in one-of my Santa Fe Cooking Schools shared this special recipe with me. A former Harvard and Stanford professor who now lives in Woodside, California, he generously told us all how to create one of his favorite appetizer specialties. I’m sure you’ll agree it’s wonderful!
How to Parch a Chile
The true flavor of a chile resides in the flesh of the pod. The ribs and seeds are the source of most of the chile’s heat; you can remove them if a milder flavor is desired. The tough skins of large chiles like New Mexico, California, and poblanos should also usually be removed before use, but I don’t feel that this is generally necessary with smaller chiles such as jalapeños and serranos. These have thinner skins, and are usually so finely sliced or minced that the skins aren’t noticeable in any case.
To parch chiles, begin by dampening a cloth towel and refrigerating it for 30 minutes (or just wrap crushed ice in the towel to chill it). Rinse and drain the chiles, and then pierce each one once near the stem with a sharp knife. If the chile is quite large, pierce it a second time near the tip. Spread the chiles on a baking sheet covered with foil. Broil, turning often, until the skins brown and blister.
As soon as the chiles are evenly browned, remove them from the baking sheet and wrap them in the cold, damp towel. Let them steam for about 10 minutes. If you’re using the chiles right away, peel off the skin in long strips. Otherwise, seal the unpeeled chiles in plastic bags and freeze them. The skin will come off easily when the chiles are thawed.
Pull the stem off each peeled chile. To remove the seeds, hold the chile point up, and then squeeze the pod from the point downward. The seeds will easily squirt out.
Makes3 or 4 servings
Total Timeunder 2 hours
Make Ahead RecipeYes
OccasionCasual Dinner Party
Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, lactose-free, low carb, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free
Equipmentblender, food processor
Taste and Texturefruity, hot & spicy, juicy, savory, sweet, tangy, tart
Type of Dishfirst course salad
- 1 pound bay scallops
- ½ cup fresh lemon juice or enough to cover scallops
- 4 red bell peppers, parched (see Notes), peeled, and seeded
- 2 tablespoons raspberry vinegar
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon pequín quebrado chile, or to taste
- Salt, if desired
- 1 medium Hass avocado
Place scallops in a glass or porcelain bowl and cover with lemon juice. Stir to coat well. Cover and refrigerate, stirring frequently, about 2 hours, or until scallops “cook” in lemon juice an turn opaque.
Meanwhile, prepare sauce. In a blender or food processor, process bell peppers, vinegar, oil, pequín, and salt, if desired, until puréed. Taste and adjust seasonings.
To serve, pit and peel avocado, and then cut lengthwise in slivers. Divide bell-pepper sauce equally among 4 to 6 clear glass plates. Drain scallops, center on sauce, and garnish edge of each plate with avocado slivers.
1987, 2005 Jane Butel