Fennel: Scallops with Fennel and Edible Blossoms

Serves 2

Jesse Cool serves this dish in winter at her restaurant, the Flea Street Cafe, in Menlo Park, California. The menu reads: “Sensual, delicate, a feast for the eye, this dish is terribly seductive when paired with champagne and candlelight.” I like to serve it over a plate of lemony buttered noodles.

  • 3 tablespoons unbleached white flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of sweet paprika
  • 10 ounces large sea scallops
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons clarified butter or ­cooking oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallots
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup crème fraîche
  • 1/2 scant teaspoon Pernod, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • Pinch of saffron
  • 1/2 cup very finely sliced Florence
  • fennel bulb
  • 1 generous tablespoon capers
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1. Chopped chives and edible blossoms such as calendula or pansies for garnish

2. In a small bowl, combine the flour, salt, and paprika. Toss the scallops in the flour mixture.

3. In a medium, heavy-bottomed sauté pan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter and lightly brown the scallops on both sides. Do not cook them through. Remove them to a dish and set aside. If all the butter has been absorbed, add another tablespoon and sauté the shallots until soft. Add the stock, crème fraîche, Pernod, fennel seeds, and saffron. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the sliced fennel, capers, scallops, salt, and pepper, and cook, covered, for about 5 minutes longer.

4. Spoon the scallop mixture onto two dinner plates. Garnish with chopped chives and edible blossoms.

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