This dish is as easy to make as it is impressive. Although it requires last minute baking and cooking, most of it can be prepared ahead and the actual cooking and assembly time is very short.
Brown butter sauce is one of the simplest yet tastiest sauces around, and its nutty flavor complements the scallops’ sweetness beautifully. The lemon rounds the buttery flavor, the pistachios enhance the nuttiness and add crunchiness to the sauce, and it all blends wonderfully with the flaky puff pastry case.
For this sauce, I preferred not to clarify the butter, as the browned milk solids in the butter add both flavor and texture to it. If you prefer to use clarified brown butter, check for instructions under TIPS or under THIS RECIPE.
The classic crisp and flaky puff pastry case, or Vol-au-vent, is wonderful for serving dishes with sauce. It can be prepared in many shapes and sizes, and is perfect for desserts as well as for savory dishes.
For best results, use homemade or good quality store bought all-butter puff pastry, and bake it as close to serving as possible.
Puff Pastry Cases
Prep time: 10 minutes; chilling time: 1 hour
Baking time: about 15 minutes; drying time: 5-10 minutes
2 7”(18cm) x 5.5”(14cm) all-butter puff pastry rectangles
1. Place the puff pastry on a lightly floured work space. Whisk the egg and brush the dough all over with it.
2. Cut 4 0.4”(1cm) strips of dough, from the shorter side of each rectangle. Create a rim by placing one strip of dough on each edge of the dough (which now is a square).
Place on a baking pan lined with baking paper and chill in the fridge for 1 hour.
3. Preheat the oven to 400F (205C). Prick the chilled dough with a fork on the corners and the center, and bake for about 15 minutes, or until the cases are golden and puffed.
4. Take out of the oven and turn off the oven. Let cool for a minute and then carefully cut around the inside square, making sure not to cut all the way through. Carefully remove the center square and place it on the baking pan, upside down.
Place back in the the oven for 5-10 minutes, to dry the inside of the pastry case and crisp the top layer. Meanwhile, prepare the scallops and sauce.
Scallops with Brown Butter Pistachio Sauce
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
For the scallops:
10 medium fresh scallops, at room temperature
1 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs butter, soft
For the brown butter pistachio sauce:
1.5 oz (40 grams) butter, soft
1/3 cup lightly roasted natural pistachios, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, finely grated
1 tsp lemon zest
1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1. The scallops: Wash the scallops and pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle with a bit of salt.
2. Heat the oil and butter on medium-high heat in a frying pan large enough to contain the scallops in one layer. Add the scallops and fry gently until they brown a bit on each side, about 2-3 minutes.
3. Remove from the pan, place on a warm plate and keep in a warm place until the sauce is done.
4. The sauce: prepare all the ingredients for the sauce.
Melt the butter in a small pan on medium-high heat. Once large bubbles start to appear, lower the heat to medium-low. Keep an eye on the butter at this stage, as it can burn quickly.
When the color turns brown, about 1 minute, add the pistachios, garlic, lemon zest and juice, salt, pepper and cayenne.
Swirl together and pour over the scallops.
5. Fill the pastry cases with the scallops and sauce and serve immediately.