Scallop Linguine with Wine Sauce – A Beginner’s Guide to Sauce Making

Pan-seared scallops served with linguine pasta in wine sauce.

So I was in the kitchen experimenting again, just like when I came up with that Garlic Shrimp Spaghetti à la Béchamel dish. Although this time instead of testing the efficacy of almond milk in a béchamel sauce, my goal was to 1. Learn how to cook scallops and 2. Practice making sauces, in general.

So this was basically a dish I came up with in order to have an excuse to learn how to do a velouté sauce. Since this is a seafood dish my velouté contained fish stock, so if you want to do what I did, go get some fish trimmings and bones, throw them into a stock pot with a fennel, an onion, thyme, the juice from a lemon, as much white wine as you’re willing to waste (make sure it’s a dry white wine), and some parsley stems (BUT NOT THE LEAVES; THIS DISCOLOURS IT), fill the pot up with water, bring it to a boil, skim the foamy stuff off the top, then turn the heat down to the lowest setting and simmer slightly uncovered for 2 hours…

You could also use the stock leftover from my octopus in red wine dish, or even canned/boxed stock I guess… I just don’t want you to. Make your own, it’s better! Stop buying fish that’s been pre-filleted; buy fish that’s been simply descaled and gutted and learn how to fillet it yourself so you can use the leftovers for stock! Do this with every meat or fish!!!

Anyways, in the classic French brigade system, the “saucier” is one of the highest positions obtainable, right behind sous-chef and executive chef. And for good reason too; sauce making is difficult. You can’t exactly rely on recipes because there are so many variables that could significantly alter the taste of the sauce. What if you’re using a different stock entirely? What if you’re using dry tarragon instead of fresh tarragon? So when you are attempting to make sauces, remember, your objective should be to make the sauce taste good. The only way you can really do that is if you taste and adjust constantly. Now my sauce came out 4/10 for my standards, which is actually pretty high considering how much of the world I’ve tasted, but there was so much I could’ve done to make the sauce better e.g. Add lemon juice, parsley, use less stock and only add wine to taste instead of dumping in half a cup at once, etc… Problem is, these things only occurred to me after I had licked my plate clean. So I’ll be giving the recipe for what I did, as well as the adjustments that I would do if I were to cook this dish again, which I probably will because scallops are fucking awesome. (´・ω・`)

Now I’m using linguine pasta, but you can use spaghetti if you want to and it won’t kill you. You could also use vermicelli, fusilli lunghi, but that’s where it ends. Don’t use anything besides those 4, you’re not allowed to, apparently. And don’t take it from me, take it from this article here.

Ingredients per person (when no measurements are given, that means it’s up to your palate to decide):
50g-100g linguine pasta
150g scallops (or more)*
olive oil
salt
pepper
cayenne pepper

For the velouté wine sauce (makes enough for several servings):
2 tbsp (28g) unsalted butter
2 tbsp (28g) all-purpose flour
1 small shallot, finely diced
fresh tarragon**
fresh thyme**
fresh basil leaves**
freshly chopped Italian parsley
fresh lemon juice
minced garlic
1 to 2 cups fish stock
1/4 to 1/2 cup dry white wine
salt/pepper to taste

Steps
1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Once boiling, add in your dry linguine pasta, turn the heat down to maintain a steady simmer, and cook according to package instructions or until al dente.***
2. In a small saucepan, melt your butter on medium heat. Once all the butter is melted, add in your finely diced shallot with a pinch of salt and cook until the shallot turns soft and translucent.
3. At this point, stir in your flour with a wooden spoon until a paste has formed (this is called a roux), and cook it for 1-3 minutes just to cook off that raw floury taste.
4. Add in your fish stock: 1 cup if you want it ultra thick, or 2 cups if you want it ultra light. 1&1/2 cup for the best of both worlds.
5. Add in your fresh tarragon, thyme, basil and parsley. If you only have dry herbs, start with a generous shake of each for now (about 1/4-1/2 tsp, depending on how much stock you added)
6. Add in a clove of minced garlic, the juice from half a lemon, and nice grind of black pepper. For the wine, start with a quarter cup. Whisk it occasionally to make sure all the flour is separated and does its job of thickening up the sauce. Let it sit now until it gets cloudy and thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, then remove from the heat.
7. Now comes the tricky part. We are going to taste the sauce, and adjust according to what we taste. Start off generously seasoning it with salt, although the generosity depends a little on the salt content of your stock. If you used fresh herbs you probably won’t need to worry about those, but if you used dry, you may need to add more tarragon, thyme, etc. Not enough acidity? Add more lemon juice. Can you hardly taste garlic? Throw in another clove. Do you want it more peppery? More pepper– obviously. Is the wine too weak? Add another splash or two and stir it all in. Can you not taste it very much? Salt, and then just keep salting it until it tastes good, because 90% of the time your sauce is probably just undersalted. If it’s too thick, feel free to whisk in a little more stock. If it’s too thin, you could probably keep it on the heat until it reduces a little, and that’ll also concentrate the flavour a little more. Set the sauce aside.

8. Drain your pasta, do not rinse, then place them in the saucepan with the sauce. Let the pasta absorb a bit of the sauce, then remove them and place them in a hot bowl or on a hot plate; a bowl if your sauce is very light, or a plate if your sauce is very thick. A good way for home cooks to keep a bowl or plate hot is to place it on top of the pot with the simmering pasta water after the pasta is drained. If you made your sauce too light to properly adhere to your pasta, pour some of the sauce into the bowl.

9. Now we will cook the scallops, and we do this last because scallops taste best when they’re freshly cooked. Season the scallops generously on all sides with salt, pepper and cayenne pepper, and don’t be afraid to use a lot of cayenne pepper.
10. Get a skillet hot on high heat, add a generous drizzle of olive oil, then sear the scallops about a minute per side until they get a nice golden-brown colour on them. If at a certain point you feel like your scallops aren’t cooking all the way through and your pan is too hot and you don’t want the scallops (or olive oil) to burn, add a splash of fish stock or wine and cook until it evaporates. This will cool down and deglaze the pan and give your scallops a little liquid to simmer in so the insides get cooked properly without the outsides burning.
11. Remove your scallops from the pan and place on top of your pasta. Serve garnished with some chopped parsley or parsley flakes.

Notes:
*You can use fresh scallops, or frozen scallops that have been thawed in the fridge overnight or in the microwave for a minute and thoroughly dried with a paper towel. Do not use scallops that have been sitting in a brine of any sort.
**You can chop them if you want bits of herbs in your sauce, or just leave them whole if you only want to extract their flavour. Purely aesthetic. You can also use dry herbs for this, but with significantly diminished flavour. The instructions will cover dry herbs too.
***This means it still retains a bit of bite in the centre and isn’t all mushy and undesirable.

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About Chef Treble

Feed me weird things.

Posted on January 26, 2016, in Beginner's Guide, Dips & Sauces, French, Italian, Lunch and Dinner, Original, Seafood and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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