This recipe doesn't have an origin in anything other than an attempt to come up with an elegant starter course featuring scallops. I knew that I wanted to sear them, and I knew that there would be a truffle cream sauce to finish. Working out the details was a matter of tasting and testing. Adding Sambuca for a bit of sweetness and the anise flavor came to me in the shower, as do a lot of my ideas for these contests: hungry, starting the day, with quiet time to come up with crazy ideas. I think it wound up working out nicely, and it does come through in the crust, and pairs nicely with the truffle. It's a little French, a little Italian, and a tiny little bit Asian. —lechef
We all know that dry scallops sear better than wet ones. I like to pat mine dry with a paper towel and allow them to sit in the fridge for about an hour, uncovered, before starting.
You will need 2 saute pans or skillets going for this dish. One will be heated over medium heat (I used cast iron) to sear the scallops. The second (I used a small saute pan) will be used to crisp the scallions, cook the mushrooms, and finish the sauce. Start to finish, cooking time is about 10 minutes. You will want to have the sauce finished just as your scallops finish searing.
If you've never used black truffle cream before, it's a great time to pick up a jar. I used Roland's Black Truffle Cream, which will run you about $10-$12 per jar. You don't use very much, and it's a very economical way to get truffles into your cooking without buying an actual truffle.
First, melt the butter in the "sauce" pan. Add the scallions and cook as the butter froths, for about 3-4 minutes. The butter will brown a bit, but be careful not to burn it. Regulate your temperature and pull the pan off the heat if it is getting too hot. Remove the scallions with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel to drain.
Meanwhile, heat your skillet for searing and add just enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan with a thin layer. Lightly season the scallops with salt and black pepper, and place them into the pan. Using a pastry brush and 1 oz of Sambuca, brush the top of the cooking scallops with a layer of liquor just before you flip them so that the Sambuca cooks into the crust on the bottom. You are going to sear each side for about 4-5 minutes, until the scallops release and they have a nice crust. Use the remaining 1 oz of Sambuca to make yourself a refreshing Sambuca cocktail: 1 oz Sambuca, 2 oz water, served over crushed ice.
When you flip the scallops, brush the already seared side with Sambuca.
As the scallops are cooking, add the shiitake slices to the butter and brown quickly on each side. You should time this so that they brown just before your scallops are done. Remove from the butter and huddle them into a corner of the scallop pan to keep them warm.
Quickly add the cream and the Black Truffle cream to the butter pan and whisk to incorporate. You won't have to thicken it much, but you will want to adjust the seasoning to taste (about 1/4 tsp of salt and pepper each).
To plate, add a small pool of sauce to a plate, place the seared scallop on top. Add 2-3 shiitake slices and sprinkle the crispy scallions on top of the scallop. Serve immediately.