Lime Ginger Scallops

I have a decent collection of cookbooks.  Some that I amassed to recreate the family collection that I grew up with.  Others that I would buy each summer that I trekked to Northern BC to work in silviculture, usually at a delightful local bookstore in Smithers, so that I could read them cover-to-cover at night in my tent, dreaming up all sorts of wonderful dinners that I would host on my days off or when I was safely back in the comfort of my own kitchen, then back in Montréal.  And, others still that have been gifted to me by request or because certain people just know me that well!

One such cookbook, The New Basics Cookbook, by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins (the authors of the Silver Palate series goodness), is of the former status.  So, I suppose this book has been in my life for a solid 25 years, give or take, when my sister first gifted it to my mum one birthday in the early 90s, with the inscription “No more sausages, please”, or something to that (blunt) effect!  Not that my mum was a terrible cook, in fact she was and is an amazing cook, so wonderful that she was strapped with the inconvenience of conjuring up two dinners most nights: one for her four kids and one for her and my dad.  I don’t blame her that she fed us the easy stuff!  It did, however, take me years to enjoy breakfast sausages again.  I think it was when I had the chance to eat cheap and filling greasy spoon breakfasts in Montréal that I fell in love with them again, with ketchup, of course.  How gauche, right?

Anyway, I love this cookbook and have come nowhere near having tried everything, so I look forward to using it for years to come.  There’s this wonderful style to it that I can’t quite pin down.  It definitely reeks of the 80s – you just have to look at the back photo to confirm or the fact that the recipe below specifies “fresh” parsley in the book (is it just me, or who in their right mind would use dried parsley, let alone dried parsley for garnish?!), yet there’s a certain timeless elegance to it all, with tried-and-true recipes and a buhzillion side notes to pleasantly send you down a rabbit hole with.

I often make the scallops in Jamie Oliver’s Meals in Minutes book, but tonight I felt like doing something different.  This recipe is sweet from the scallops and warm with the ginger.  The lime adds a fresh zing.  I was so tempted to use fresh ginger but, in the end, I was glad I used the dried as indicated as the powder helped to thicken up the sauce.  If you don’t care about that, by all means try using fresh and tell me how it is!  I also am out of both walnuts and parsley, so I just didn’t use them.  I’m still not sure how I feel about the addition of toasted walnuts: it doesn’t sit well with part of my palate, yet the rest of me is all ‘what’s not to like about toasted nuts?’.  Chopped fresh parsley would have been a welcome addition for garnish, as you can tell from my photos!

I’m not sure if I am a love of scallops, but I sure love their convenience.  And, since moving away from the ocean, they’ve really begun to warm the cockles of my heart because they seem to freeze well.  I try to keep a pound or so of frozen, small scallops in my kitchen freezer at all times as they thaw quickly under running water if you have not had the opportunity to think ahead as often happens around these woods.

Tonight, my mum joined us for an informal dinner and scallops are her favourite and easy to adapt to her dairy- and grain-free diet.  Although, I’m not sure about my strategy for giving her extra scallops to make up for the lack of rice on her plate, especially after trying out this recipe!  We stretched this out over three adults and a preschooler, with the toddler making funny faces at me (although she likes the JO version, so it wasn’t the scallops).

Sautéed Scallops with Lime Ginger Butter

Servings: 3 modest servings
Time: 30 mins
Difficulty: moderate
A tangy, fresh way to serve scallops!
Almost exactly as in The New Basics Cookbook (1989) by Julee Rosso & Sheila Lukins

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 lb sea scallops, patted dry
  • 3 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 4 tbsp Lime Ginger Butter
  • 1/3 c walnut halves, lightly toasted
  • fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish
  1. Heat the fats in a large skillet over high heat.
  2. Add scallops and cook until golden, about 4 minutes.
  3. Pour off the fat.
  4. Add the lime juice and cook about 2 minutes (still at high heat).
  5. Add the Lime Ginger Butter, 1 tbsp at a time, cooking until a nice, thick sauce forms.
  6. Stir in walnuts and sprinkle with parsley.
  7. Serve.

Lime Ginger Butter

  • 4 tbsp butter
  • finely grated zest from 2 limes (about 2 tsp)
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  1. Mash and stir this all together in a small bowl.
  2. Form a log, wrap and refrigerate until you use it.

Whip this dinner up in your cast iron pan (but clean it promptly afterwards, you’ve been forewarned!).  I found that my slow timing with kerfuffles in the kitchen was okay and the scallops were perfectly cooked, so I used slightly longer cooking times as indicated, above, as opposed to the shorter ones in the original recipe.  I served this with a cucumber salad (cucumber, vinegar, salt, sugar, dill, pepper), some leftover rice, and barbecued whole sweet red peppers.  This would have all tasted delicious with some beer!


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