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Jun 29, 2008 02:12 PM

Poaching recipe questions

I'm make a poached scallops recipe from one of the COTM, Tapas by Penelope Casas. I'll report on the results in the COTM thread, but I have a question right now as I'm preparing the recipe. It calls for a very small amount of liquid (1/4 c white wine) to be simmered with various aromatics (bay leaf, clove, onion, julienned carrot and celery). I've prepped that far. Then she calls for adding the scallops (1/2 lb bay scallops or sea scallops cut in half), simmering for 6 minutes, removing the scallops, then adding butter & parsley to the cooking liquid to make a sauce, then serving.

But she never calls for straining the aromatics out of the liquid, which seems like an omission, especially since 1/4 c of white wine isn't very much liquid at all; right now, the carrots and celery juliennes would keep the scallops mostly elevated out of the liquid. What do you think? I'm inclined to strain the poaching liquid before adding the scallops. Also, 6 minutes seems awfully long for small scallops. Seems like 2-3 minutes should be enough.

Thanks for any advice.

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  1. In wanting to keep what she wrote, what about the chance that you are not poaching in liquid, but in steam? if the scallops are held above the liquid by the aromatics. I have seen braising recipes in which they placed carrots and celery whole in the bottom of the pan to (1) infuse flavor and (2) keep the flesh off of direct heat on just one side (bottom).

    I would strain before making the sauce, but poach on top of aromatics as she wrote.

    1. 6 minutes does seem long. 2-3 minutes for smallies should be about right. They should be opaque in the center when done. I think the aromatics should be ditched unless they are still firm tasty and add something to the dish. Strange.

      1. I've found that many professionals make assumptions about technique when they publish their recipes. I wonder if she's using a garniture pouche, herbe pouche, "little bag of herbs in the liquid" kind of thing so that straining liquid is not necessary.

        1. I decided to strain the liquid in the end. Combined with the accumulated juices from the thawed scallops (yes, I know), it made a reasonable amount of liquid for poaching. 3 minutes was about the right amount of time, and the butter & parsley to finish the sauce was lovely. Thanks for the feedback.