Scallops & Sauteed Spinach with Hoisin Sauce

When I bought the Gourmet Cookbooks at Costco last year (moment of silence, please,  for the closing of Gourmet Magazine) a free one-year’s subscription came to Bon Appétit, the sister publication to Gourmet.  I don’t know if I’ll re-up, but I have to say it’s been a year’s adventure of recipes and cooking.  One issue in particular, the April 2009 issue, I used most of the recipes.  And this recipe, by Molly Stevens,  was one of them.  I remembered it again, because while looking for something to cook up for the Anniversary of Our First Date (some 21  years ago, which my husband refers to as our “semi-anniversary,” since he feels its not a one of the biggies) I found some scallops in the deep freeze, remembered the box of spinach in the fridge and the hoisin sauce in the cupboard.  Score!

I always cut the scallops through the middle to make them thinner, and to make us believe we have more (you can never have too many scallops in your life). They also cook in a flash that way. I use about 1 and 1/2 bags of spinach (approx 5 oz. each), but the same amount of scallions, etc for that step.  Since we don’t drink, I substitute apple juice for the mirin and the last substitution I make is for the chili sesame oil: sesame oil plus a couple of drops of tobasco (one can have too many jars in the fridge of specialized ingredients, I think).

Yield: Makes 6 servings

1/4 cup hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
1/4 teaspoon hot chili sesame oil
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter, divided
1/4 cup chopped shallot (about 1 large)
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon minced peeled fresh ginger
4 garlic cloves, minced, divided
1 serrano chile, seeded, minced, divided (I used jalapeno–a little more mild)
4 5-ounce bags baby spinach
Coarse kosher salt (sea salt works fine)
2 pounds sea scallops, side muscles removed
1 tablespoon peanut oil or vegetable oil
3/4 cup finely chopped spring onions or green onions (white and pale green parts only)
1/4 cup mirin (sweet Japanese rice wine)*

Whisk first 3 ingredients in small bowl to blend and reserve.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add shallot, 1 tablespoon ginger (I grate frozen peeled ginger instead of chopping it), 2 minced garlic cloves, and half of minced chile. Sauté until shallot is soft, about 2 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high and add 1 bag spinach. Stir until beginning to wilt. Add remaining spinach, 1 bag at a time, stirring between additions until just wilted. Season with coarse salt and pepper. Keep warm.

Sprinkle scallops with coarse salt and pepper. Melt 1 tablespoon butter with peanut oil in heavy large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook scallops until brown on both sides and just opaque in center, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer scallops to plate; tent with foil.

Add 1 tablespoon butter, spring onions, remaining 1 teaspoon minced ginger, 2 minced garlic cloves, and remaining half of minced chile to skillet. Sauté until onions begin to soften, 1 to 2 minutes. Add mirin and simmer until reduced to glaze, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in hoisin mixture. Reduce heat to medium-low. Whisk in 2 tablespoons butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Divide spinach among plates. Top with scallops, dividing equally. Spoon sauce over and serve.

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