There are some people you’d like to have over for diner every night. Those special someones that you only get to see once in a blue moon, but that radiate an eternal glow of love and light onto you and your family by their simple presence. For those people, you want to cook something special. Something that feels like a thank you gift from you to them for greeting you with their presence.
Something like Djondjon Israeli couscous with lemon butter scallops and crispy sage. That sounds just delicious and as delicate and sophisticated as that special someone.
Last night, I was so happy to host my aunt Pascale, or Loulou as we all call her. You see Pascale and I share a very special bond. One I never quite understood considering that we don’t always see each other. But distance is thinner than blood, right?
We are always so delighted to see one another, to talk, to laugh, to exchange just a silly inside joke that only her and I will get.
My fond memories of my aunt date back to my early childhood. She always was the most attentive, quiet, warm hearted one of my 4 aunts. (I love you too Cathou — wink at my other Tatie whom I know must be thinking what about me ?! I love you for so many other reasons.)
One summer of my early teenage years, I got to spend my entire vacation with her and her family in Manhattan. What a summer that was. I loved being around then little, Sebastien and Victoria, whom have grown today, to no surprise, in the most incredible responsible affectionate young adults.
Hopefully they get to visit soon. Hmmm… What will I make them?
Last night’s diner was a real success. Everyone enjoyed the delicious flavors of the juicy seared scallops in the lemon butter, and the hint of sage aromas elevating this dish.
The watercress came as a nice surprise that added freshness and a touch of crispiness.
The “Djondjon”, a local black mushroom typical of Haiti, delivered as it always does with its earthy flavors reinforced with truffle oil, making the Israeli couscous a delicate savory bed for our perfectly seared scallops.
The lemon butter brought it all together to perfection.
The citrusy flavors capped the watercress and Israeli couscous with bold flavors reinforced by the delicate kick of the lemon zest and crispy salted sage.
Seared scallops are to me the very best. Nothing tops this preparation as it truly allows the scallop to retain its juiciness and tenderness. To sear to perfection, make sure to use a fry pan that can deliver equal heat throughout and that can recover quickly, meaning it can regain its high temperature real fast. I like to use my All Clad stainless steel fry pan. As you add cold ingredients to your pan, its temperature will drop, and the secret to perfectly searing those scallops is in your pan regaining its high temperature quickly to get the crispy outer coating on your scallops and the delicious bits in the pan.
What about you? What is your favorite way of prepping scallops?
I know for sure that this preparation pleased my Loulou. I sure hope you get to make it at home for a very special someone of your own very soon, and when you do, write me a few words to let me know how you enjoyed it.
"Djondjon" black mushrooms Israeli couscous with lemon butter scallops & crisp sage
"Djondjon" black mushrooms Israeli couscous with lemon butter scallops & crisp sage. Delicious recipe easier than you think.
Djondjon Israeli Couscous
- 4 cups water
- 2 cups djondjon
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 4.5 cups israeli couscous (this is not regular couscous)
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp garlic creole marinade (or 1/2 tbsp garlic paste)
- 1/2 tbsp rosemary
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup truffle oil (for finishing)
- 12 leaves fresh sage
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- coarse sea salt
Lemon butter scallops
- 2 dozen large scallops
- 1 lime juice
- 1 lime zest
- 2 tbsp salted butter
- 1/2 tsp creole garlic marinade (or 1/4 tsp garlic paste)
- 1 cup cresson / watercress
- salt and cracked black pepper
"Djondjon" black mushrooms Israeli couscous
In a medium saucepan, bring 4 cups of water with a pinch of salt to a boil.
Add your 2 cups of Djondjon (black mushrooms) and let it boil for 10 minutes until water tuns dark black.
Turn off the heat and add to your blender and purée.
Strain well, getting all the juices from the marc.
Quickly rinse your saucepan and bring back on your stove over medium heat.
Melt your butter and sauté garlic and rosemary quickly.
Add your djondjon broth and vegetable broth.
Add salt and pepper to taste, and bring to a boil.
Once boiled reduce heat, add in your Israeli couscous and let simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Once ready turn off the heat, add in your truffle oil and mix well. Set aside covered until ready to serve.
In a small fry pan, heat oil over medium-high heat until hot.
Fry 6 to 8 sage leaves at a time just 2 to 3 seconds, until crisp. Careful not to burn them. They should remain bright green with a little gold.
Transfer leaves carefully to paper towels with a fork to avoid excess oil.
Sprinkle with coarse sea salt generously and set aside.
Do not throw away the oil, which we will use to sear the scallops. Pour it in a measuring cup or recipient of your choice.
Lemon butter seared scallops
Thaw your scallops in cold water or overnight in the fridge. (You want to start your prepping with this step).
In a paper towel, pat dry your scallops to remove excess water.
Add salt and cracked black pepper to taste to season.
In your fry pan, over medium heat add 1/3 of your sage oil (the left over oil from your sage crisping).
Sear 6 to 8 your scallops at a time 2 to 3 minutes on each side until gold and crisp. You don't want to over cook them so they remain extra tender and juicy. You want to work in 3 batches to avoid them sticking to one another.
Set your first batch of seared scallops aside in a plate, and repeat the steps until you have seared all 24 scallops.
In your fry pan, melt your butter over low-medium heat.
Add in your garlic and lemon juice. With a spoon scrap off all the crispy bits from the pan, this will give you extra flavors.
Turn the heat to a simmer and add in your scallops coating them entirely with the lemon butter sauce.
Plate your Djondjon black mushrooms Israeli couscous.
Top with fresh watercress.
Top with 3 to 4 scallops and drizzle some lemon butter over.
Sprinkle some lime zest on top.
Top with 1 or 2 leaves of crispy sage.
You can find my creole garlic marinade here or use garlic paste if you'd prefer.