Seared Achiote Sea Scallops With Sambuca-Scented Kale


Executive chef Gary Scherer of Seville Golf & Country Club, in Gilbert, Ariz., adds a spirited spin to succulent scallops with Sambuca-kissed kale, the vegetable of the moment. The achiote paste, a Mexican spice blend from the Yucatan, lends a distinctive red hue and exotic flavor.

3 ounces prepared achiote paste
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3 pounds fresh sea scallops, about 30
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Sambuca-Scented Kale (recipe follows)
1-2 cups micro cilantro

Break up achiote paste in a food processor with garlic, orange juice, lime juice, vinegar, and sea salt. Blend until smooth.

Place the scallops in a large bowl and pour the achiote mixture over them. Marinate uncovered in the refrigerator for 1 hour. 

In a large cast-iron skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat and quickly sear scallops for 2 minutes per side, being careful not to overcook. Remove from the pan and keep scallops warm.

To serve, arrange 5 scallops on the border of each plate with a mound of kale in the center. Garnish each scallop with micro cilantro. Serve immediately.

Yield: 6 servings



2 heads green kale, thinly sliced like slaw
2 ounces extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced lengthwise
2 ounces Sambuca (Pernod liquor can be substituted)
sea salt

Drop the kale into a deep, heavy pot filled with rapidly boiling salted water for 30 seconds. Place in an ice bath to cool quickly. Drain in a colander.

In a large nonstick pan, add the olive oil and heat to medium temperature. Add sliced garlic and sauté for 2 minutes, stirring until translucent. Add kale and heat thoroughly. Finish with Sambuca liquor and salt to taste.

CHEF’S TIP: “My go-to achiote paste brand is El Yucateco, found in many supermarkets’ Latin American section.”


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