Salt Block Seared Scallops with Thai Lime Dipping Sauce

This recipe courtesy of Salt Block Cooking by Mark Bitterman

A scallop salt-seared to crispy golden perfection turns a nice bite into spellbinding bliss. Doused in sesame-citrus sauce, it is the new benchmark in cooking shellfish.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (9- to 10-inch) square salt block
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup Thai fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 hot chile pepper, such as bird chile, habanero, cayenne, or Scotch bonnet, stem and seeds removed, minced
  • 1/4 cup finely shredded carrot
  • 1 1/4 pounds large, wild-caught sea scallops (about 16)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Instructions:

  1. Place the salt block over low heat on a gas grill or gas stovetop for 10 minutes. Turn the heat to medium and heat for 10 more minutes. Raise the heat to medium-high and heat the block to about 600-degrees F for about 20 more minutes.
  2. To make the dipping sauce, mix the lime juice, fish sauce, 1/4 cup water, vinegar, sesame oil, garlic, chile pepper and carrot; set aside.
  3. Pat the scallops dry and pull off the small white muscle on the side of the scallop if not already removed.  Season the scallops with the black pepper and let stand at room temperature until the salt block is hot.
  4. When the salt block is very hot (you should only be able to hold your hand above it for just a few seconds), place the scallops on the salt block and sear until browned and springy to the touch but still a little soft in the center, about 3 minutes per side. Work in batches if your salt block cannot comfortably fit all the scallops at once.
  5. Transfer scallops to a platter or plates and serve with the dipping sauce.

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