Happy Valentine’s Day! I know I should be sharing something pink, chocolate-y, and/or sugar-saturated today, but as usual I’m in a savory mood.
In that spirit, if you happen to be making a romatic dinner for you and your sweetie tonight, may I suggest these succulent, sesame-crusted sea scallops with gingery cauli rice and bok choy? It’s a super-easy (one-skillet!), feel-good meal that’s satisfying but also light enough that you’ll still have some room for dessert. A win-win.
For the scallops, my newest favorite seasoning method is to dredge both sides in a small dish of my Two-Tone Gomasio so they get a hit of salt and toasty sesame goodness all in one. Then I sear them in a nonstick pan so that the seeds remain adhered to the scallops rather than sticking to the pan. The sesame seed crust is salty, savory and crunchy — the perfect flavor and textural foil to the tender, sweet scallops.
And let’s talk about cauliflower rice. I’ve made it before and honestly I didn’t love it. It always ended up a bit soggy in my experience. This time, rather than blitzing the cauliflower in a food processor, which releases a lot of the its water, I grated it on the coarse side of a box grater. Game changer! The grated cauli releases much less liquid, and the cauli shreds stay perfectly al dente after a quick saute over high heat along with garlic, ginger, jalapeño, and scallions. Finished with cilantro and toasted coconut this is such a bright winter side dish and makes a great pairing with the savory-sweet scallops.
And for the final component – because I always like some greens on my plate! – baby bok choy seared in coconut oil, then quickly steam-braised with mirin (Japanese rice wine), which adds complex sweetness that’s lovely against the peppery bite of the bok choy. So good!
And perhaps the best part about this meal? It’s festive and kinda fancy, but only requires one (nonstick) pan! Toast the shredded coconut first, then cook the bok choy, saute your cauliflower rice and, finally, sear the scallops. Simply wipe out the pan between stages so you’re starting with a clean surface each time.
Sesame-crusted sea scallops with coconut ginger cauliflower rice and bok choy
Gluten-free, Grain-free, Dairy-free
2 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut
coconut oil, as needed
2 heads of baby bok choy, halved lengthwise and rinsed well
1 tablespoon mirin
Celtic salt, as needed
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
1 thinly sliced scallion, white and green portions (divided)
1/2 jalapeno, chopped
1/2 medium head of cauliflower, leaves and core removed (about 12 ounces), grated on the coarse side of a box grater to yield rice-like shreds (about 3 cups)
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons gomasio (or 3 tablespoons black and/or tan sesame seeds + 1/2 teaspoon salt)
4 to 8 large sea scallops (2 to 4 per person, depending on size)
lime wedges, for serving
Toast coconut in a 10 to 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Once the coconut begins to toast it will brown rapidly, so keep a close eye on it so it doesn’t burn. Transfer to a bowl and wipe the pan clean with a paper towel.
Heat 1 tablespoon coconut oil over medium heat in the same skillet. Add bok choy and sear 1-2 minutes on each side, until it begins to caramelize. Add mirin, a pinch of salt, and 2 tablespoons water. Cook 1 minute then flip and cook 1 minute more. Transfer to a plate and keep warm. Wipe out the skillet.
Heat 2 tablespoons coconut oil in your pan over medium-high heat. Add garlic, ginger, white portions of scallion, and jalapeño. Cook 2 minutes. Add grated cauliflower and a pinch of salt. Saute, stirring often, until cauliflower begins to take on some color, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in lime juice. Transfer mixture to a bowl and add cilantro, scallion greens, and toasted coconut. Toss gently to combine. Taste and add salt, if needed.
Wipe out pan once more. Place gomasio (or sesame seeds + salt) in a small dish. Dip both sides of scallops in gomasio. Heat 2 tablespoons coconut oil over medium heat. Sear scallops for about 2 minutes on each side (very large scallops may take a bit longer), so that the crust is nicely browned and the interior is medium-rare. Transfer to a plate.
Arrange scallops and bok choy over cauliflower rice and serve with lime wedges for squeezing.