Society Cafe chef shares his scallop secrets

Pea puree with fresh peas and tendrils complement caramelized scallops.
Photo: Beverly Poppe

Chef Kim Canteenwalla’s favorite ways to cook scallops take a minimalist approach, aligning the tasty bivalves with simple flavors that spotlight their sweetness. His latest scallop dish combines fresh pea puree with more peas, baby fennel, and a pistachio-bacon-lemon gremolata. “I used to do this with a cauliflower puree, which was more earthy, and we’ve done scallops with a watermelon and arugula salad as well,” says the chef. “But this is a great seasonal recipe, and it’s easy to find the ingredients. I bought everything for this dish at the local farmers’ market one day.”

The Details

Society Café
Encore, 248-3463.
Sunday-Thursday, 7 a.m.-11 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 7 a.m.-1 a.m.

Canteenwalla said the baby fennel might be the toughest ingredient to procure. If you can’t find it, you can chop down a regular fennel bulb. “And it’s not going to kill you to use frozen peas in the puree.” Thanks, chef, for making it easy on us.

Caramelized Sea Scallops

(serves 2)


8 U-10 scallops

½ cup pea puree (recipe below)

4 tbsp. pistachio gremolata (recipe below)

2 oz. fresh peas

2 oz. pea tendrils

4-6 bulbs baby fennel (blanched and quartered)

4 tbsp. oil

Salt and pepper

Pea Puree ingredients:

6 cups fresh peas (frozen is okay)

1 white onion (diced small)

2 cloves garlic

4 tbsp. butter

2 cups vegetable stock

Pistachio Gremolata ingredients:

1 cup pistachios (roasted and chopped)

½ cup bacon (diced small and rendered)

2 tbsp. parsley

1 tbsp. lemon zest

squeeze of lemon juice

salt and pepper to taste


To make the pea puree, sweat onions and garlic in the butter with salt until translucent. Add peas and stock, and simmer for a minute. Transfer to blender and puree. Pass through a chinoise and immediately chill.

To make the gremolata, incorporate all the ingredients, including the bacon fat, and season to taste. Put aside until plating the final dish.

To complete the dish, divide the oil and heat in two pans over medium heat. Season the scallops with salt and pepper and sear on both sides for about two minutes, until cooked just through. In the second pan, add peas, tendrils and fennel, and season with salt and pepper. Meanwhile, warm the pea puree in a third pan, over low heat. Serve by plating the pea/fennel mixture on one side, the puree on the other, the scallops on top of the puree and the gremolata in the front.

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