Several years ago I got to take a cooking class with local chef, Monica Pope. Not only is she an awesome chef, she is also an all-around nice person. And really funny. It made her cooking class even more enjoyable. The cooking class was really more like a cocktail party with a side of cooking. We all got to do a little mixing, chopping, and cooking while sipping wine and listening to Chef Monica share some great stories. If only every night’s cooking could be that much fun. On the menu that night were these seared scallops with chermoula sauce.
I had never heard of chermoula sauce before that class and still rarely see any mention of it now. Chermoula sauce is the Moroccan version of pesto. Rather than finely chopped basil, garlic, and olive oil, chermoula has finely chopped cilantro, parsley, garlic, and olive oil – and some additional spices to kick it up a notch. Those additional spices happen to include my two favorite spices – cumin and paprika. I have been using those spices a lot recently from this awesome chicken dish to these easy tostadas. Cumin and paprika – they’re the new salt and pepper.
I found a website that called chermoula “the most delicious sauce you’ve never tasted” which sounds about right. It really is a delicious sauce and definitely deserves more recognition. It’s herby and spicy – but not hot spicy just really flavorful spicy. And it’s versatile. It can be used as a sauce but it also makes a great marinade for fish. It makes perfectly seared scallops divine.
If you are wondering about the quinoa that is pictured with the scallops in these photos, stay tuned. I’ll share the recipe for the red quinoa and edamame salad next time.
- ⅔ cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, firmly packed
- ⅔ cup cilantro leaves, firmly packed
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- 4-5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Salt to taste
- 12 large sea scallops
- Grapeseed oil
- In the bowl of a mini-chopper or small bowl of a food processor, process parsley, cilantro, garlic, cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper, olive oil, lemon juice, and salt until garlic and herbs are finely chopped. Taste and adjust salt and lemon juice as needed. Allow the sauce to sit at room temperature for at least 15 minutes (the longer the better) for flavors to develop.
- Pat scallops dry on all sides with paper towels. Let scallops sit at room temperature for 5 minutes to allow the surface of the scallops to dry out (this will help the scallops get a nice sear).
- Heat a non-stick pan over medium-high heat. When pan is hot, add 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil and swirl the pan so that bottom is evenly coated with oil. Add the scallops and then shake the pan slightly to make sure the scallops don't stick. Sear scallops until underside is golden brown, about 2 minutes. Gently turn scallops over and sear the other side until golden brown and scallops are just cooked through, about 2 minutes more.
- Divide scallops among 4 plates. Spread some chermoula sauce on each scallop and serve any extra sauce at the table.