This evening I found myself inspired (okay, perhaps "possessed" is a better word...) to try my hand at cooking up a little something carribean. My initial intent was to use Pacific red snapper here, but after visiting three grocery stores and coming up with none of said fish, I settled on scallops. So with no further nonsense, here's my ham-fisted attempt at a carribean take on the migratory bivalve...
One mango, diced (reserve several thin slices for garnish)
One small shallot, minced
One habañero pepper, seeded and minced
Four oz. (8 Tbsp) butter
Two Tbsp lime juice (reserve two thin slices of the lime for garnish)
Four Tbsp dry white wine
One Tbsp white wine vinegar
Sea scallops (8-10 should work for two people)
Peanut or Canola oil (enough to fill a 2 qt saucepan to 3 or 4 inches)
First, the sauce. Saute 2 Tbsp of the diced mango in 1 Tbsp of butter over medium heat until it just begins to caramelize. Remove from heat and puree using an immersion blender (or use a regular blender or food processor). Clean out the pan and saute the minced shallot in 1 Tbsp of butter over medium heat until just translucent. Add the lime juice, wine and vinegar and bring to a boil. Reduce it by not quite half and add the mango puree. Bring to a boil again, and take it off the heat. Whisk in the remaining butter a little at a time, placing it back over the heat as necessary. Once all of the butter is incorporated, add the habañero. Go easy here. Habañero can be punishing if you're not used to heat (I once chomped down on a large green olive stuffed with a whole habañero in one bite, and it took me the better part of the afternoon to recover). You can now set the sauce aside. It's worth noting that beurre blanc can be tricky, and doesn't like to be left alone; it tends to separate easily due to the fact that it's made up of water and fat based liquids in the absence of an emulsifying agent. But I found here that the mango puree acted as a stabilizer, and this sauce was a bit more forgiving than a traditional beurre blanc. But proceed with caution nonetheless.
Next, the plantain. This is a starchier cousin of the banana, and as prepared here will be a sort of carribean answer to french fries. Slice your plantain lengthwise, then cut it in half. Slice the quarters into french fry shaped sticks, then carefully remove the peel from each slice. Bring your oil to 320F, and drop the plantain sticks in. Fry them for about ten minutes, until they're just beginning to brown. Remove them from the oil and drain them on paper towels. Increase the temperature of the oil to 380F, and drop them back in for about three minutes, or until they turn a dark golden brown color. Drain them once again on paper towels and season with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.
Finally, the scallops. At this point, you might want to place the plantain sticks in the oven at the lowest temperature, and put your beurre blanc back on the burner over low heat (have your date/significant other keep an eye on them both). Now comes the fun part: fire up your grill. While the grill is heating up, brush the scallops on each side with extra virgin olive oil. Season them on each side with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, then place them on the grill over direct medium-high heat for four to five minutes on each side. When they're done, they'll have just a bit of color and will have firmed up noticeably (If you don't have a grill, you can pan sear them over high heat for three to four minutes on each side). I threw the mango slices on the grill along with the scallops to caramelize, but this one's up to you. Be careful not to overcook the scallops, by the way. As long as the scallops are really fresh, it's better to err on the side of undercooked than overcooked.
Once the scallops are done, all that remains is to plate, garnish with mango and lime slices... and enjoy!