Diver Scallops With Cava (DrinkupNY)

Diver Scallops with Cava

By Warren Bobrow, Cocktail WhispererCooking with the same wines as I drink is one of the hidden secrets of culinary arts.  But what about drinking and cooking with sparkling wines? These fizzy numbers are just marvelous when woven into dishes that call for the very best in the world.  The kind of fresh (never frozen) seafood like those sold at Metropolitan Seafood in Lebanon, New Jersey.  I bet that you’ve never tasted fish like this before and when washed down with a glass of theperfectly crystalline, fizzy wine, well there is magic in each and every sip.  If you are anywhere near this part of New Jersey on any given day, except for Sunday or Monday when the Hunt’s Point Fresh Seafood Market is open, well, it’s time to ice the bubbly!I’m a firm believer that you don’t have to spend a great deal of money on sparkling wine to enjoy a memorable bottle.  Take Spain for instance.  They make boatloads of passable fizzy wines in Spain.  However, very few are of excellent quality like the Cellar Vilafranca “Casteller” Cava Brut NV from Cataloniain Spain.  This lightly fizzy wine just screams out for thin slices of freshly harvested “Diver” Scallops that are seared in a stainless steel sauté panand then the pan is deglazed with a few splashes of the Cava and some shallots are added.  A bit of heavy cream can added be after the Cava reduces in volume. This thickness is added for depth and structure.  An ice-cold pat of butter will bring the flavors together, along with a tiny pinch of exotic saffron for color and character at the finish.

This dish is so gorgeous and opulent, it smacks of the ocean as it coats your tongue.  The charisma and the salinity of the flavors move gently down your throat and into your memories of the greatest meals of your life.  That added burst of the sparkling wine will bring you into the complexities of this dish- just how delicious it really is with wine of this quality.

Of course before I go much further, I must tell you how reasonably priced this wine is.  DrinkUpNY has it for just about fifteen dollars per bottle.  That is amazingly delicious, crisp- aromatic and very refreshing wine tastes as if lime and lemon zests have been injected into each sip.  There is salinity in the glass that gives the impressions of ocean-splashed stones and an added pinch of sea salt in every zippy sip.  Cooking with Cellar Vilafranca “Casteller” Cava is a joy because with the complex and assertive nature of the 40% Macabeo, 40% Parellada and 20% Xarello grapes, this is not your mom’s low-end “plonk” bottle of sparkling liquid that hurts you badly the next morning.

Cellar Vilafranca is really worth the few bucks you spend for something that tastes much more expensive.

Ingredients
Seared fresh, (never frozen) Diver Scallops with Saffron Sauce
1 pound Fresh Diver Scallops, Sliced into somewhat thin slices with a very sharp and narrow fish knife, you may want to put the scallops into the freezer for a few minutes for easier slicing
1-teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon dried Saffron in total  (A few precious Saffron threads per person are all you need)
1 teaspoon very thinly slices of shallot
¼ cup Heavy Cream
2 tablespoons Sweet Butter (I never cook with salted butter, you shouldn’t either)
Pinch of freshly ground Sea Salt
Freshly Ground Pepper
2 oz. Cellar Vilafranca Cava (per plate and definitely more for your glass!)
Stainless Steel (preferably with a copper core) pan

Preparation:
Heat your stainless steel pan to sizzling hot, drop a bit of water in the pan to test temperature, if it jumps around and beads, the pan is hot enough

Dribble the olive oil into the pan and slide the Diver Scallop slices into the sizzling hot oil

Do not touch for 1-2 minutes- and then flip with a stainless steel fish spatula and season with a touch of sea-salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Remove medallions of the Diver Scallops from the pan and keep warm and moist.  You may want to put a hot (clean) cloth that has been lightly spritzed with salted water on them and then into the oven at around 250 degrees.  Don’t cover them?  They’ll be like pencil erasers.  Hard rubber ones!

Add the Cellar Vilafranca Cava wine to the hot pan that you just cooked the scallop slices.  It’s going to sizzle like crazy, so now would be a good time to throw in those shallot slices.  Also add the Saffron threads at this time and sweat a bit in the liquid them to reveal their inner secrets.

Add the Heavy Cream- reduce until it looks “scary” I’m telling you as a cook now, you’ll think it’s reduced enough, but please, do it some more… you’ll know when it takes on a caramelized color, the heavy cream’s sugars cooking with the shallot and the saffron. It’s one of life’s simple pleasures right here.  But it’s not done yet, take a sip of your brilliantly made Spanish Cava and contemplate.  Do I feel lucky with this sauce?  Did it break?  (I hope not)

Add the Ice Cold Butter now and whisk it in small pieces- right into the hot cream sauce… there is a term for this… but I forget what it’s called, montes? Montay? oh well.  I was once a saucier in the restaurant business a few decades ago.  I trained my entire career to learn about soups, stocks and sauces.  They used to sayin New Orleans, your sauce is supposed to coat the back of a spoon.  And I, in my infinite wisdom would say, what kind of spoon?  A soup spoon?  A wooden spoon? What?  Metal?  Silver?  Uh?  No wonder I didn’t become a better cook.  I wanted to know which one.  Any one!

Reduce a bit more and pour the sauce over the warmed Diver Scallop Medallions, you could scatter some scallion threads over the top for a white, red and green motif. If desired of course.. … get some nice crusty bread for dipping that fragrant sauce, redolent with the saline punch of the scallops with the mysterious sweetness of the saffron and the warmth of the heavy cream.  Yum is correct.

Serve on a pre-heated dish and garnish with pinwheels of lemon

Serve with an ice-cold glass of the Cellar Vilafranca Cava, open another one and chill a third, you’re going to need it to wash down this brilliant seafood and stimulate conversation…