Coming up with a great hors d’oeuvre can be a challenge. You need something delicious that can also be picked up and enjoyed without mess. These scallop lollipops — so called because the skewered portobello-wrapped scallops resemble the candy — are just the thing.
The idea for these came after a visit to the Minnesota State Fair, where I first saw mac and cheese on a stick (skewered chunks of the casserole breaded and fried), among other brochette innovations. A little East-West refinement of traditional bacon-wrapped scallops (the portobellos replace the meat) resulted in these bites, which also make a fine starter when served atop some dressed greens.
Soak the wooden skewers in cold water for 1 hour before grilling.—Ming Tsai and Arthur Boehm
For the Miso-Citrus Marinade
1 cup sake
1 cup ponzu (without added soy sauce)
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups light miso (shiro-miso)
3 tablespoons peeled and minced fresh ginger
1 cup grapeseed or canola oil
For the scallops
2 large portobello mushrooms, stemmed
1 pound medium sea scallops
2 cups Miso-Citrus Marinade
2 tablespoons grapeseed or canola oil, plus 1/4 cup more, if needed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
If served as a first course
1/4 pound mixed greens
15 to 20 five-inch wooden skewers, soaked in cold water for 1 hour
Make the marinade
1. In a large bowl, combine the sake, ponzu, and sugar and whisk until the sugar is dissolved. Whisk in the miso until smooth. Add the ginger, then whisk in the oil gradually, to emulsify the mixture. Store in the refrigerator. Lasts 2 weeks, refrigerated.
Make the scallops
1. With a spoon scrape the gills from the mushroom caps. Set aside the caps.
2. Toss the scallops with the marinade in a medium bowl. Marinate in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 hours.
3. Prepare a grill, a grill pan, or a large saute pan over high heat until hot, and spray the grid with nonstick cooking spray.
4. Lightly rub the portobellos with 2 tablespoons of the oil and season with salt and pepper. If using a pan, add 2 additional tablespoons of oil and swirl to coat the pan. Grill or saute the mushrooms, turning once, until brown, 8 to 10 minutes total. Transfer the mushrooms to a medium bowl and cover with plastic wrap so the mushrooms can steam to complete their cooking, about 15 minutes. Cut the mushrooms into 1/4-inch-thick slices.
5. Remove the scallops from the marinade and wipe to remove excess marinade. Encircle each scallop with 1 or 2 portobello slices then insert a skewer through the center to make a “handle” and hold the mushroom in place. Place 2 scallops on each skewer. If using a pan, reheat over high heat, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, and swirl to coat the pan. Lightly pepper the scallops and, working in batches, if using a pan, saute the lollipops, turning once, until the scallops are cooked, about 3 minutes per side. If using a grill, grill until the scallops are cooked through, turning once, about 2 minutes on each side.
6. If serving as an hors d’oeuvre, arrange the lollipops on an oval platter. To serve as a starter, divide the greens among 4 plates. Top with the lollipops, squeeze the juice from the lemon over the lollipops, and serve.
Recipe © 2003 Ming Tsai. All rights reserved.