Scallop, Egg, Orange, Endive

Today I did something I haven’t done in a long time.

I ruined some really good food. Or an idea of good food. I had this great recipe lined up. Seared scallops with orange saffron cream. While the sauce was going on the stove I started to arrange the photographs, the still lifes, like I do. For the first time ever I got to play around with my dad’s fancy digital camera. And…I got carried away. So that when I finally remembered the sauce, finally checked on it, it had…broken.

And when I say broken I mean this sauce was devastated. Unsalvageable. This is what happens when you ignore sauce. You leave butter and cream unwatched on the stove for too long and it will overheat. And when a fatty sauce overheats it de-emulsifies; it separates into its basic elements, grease and protein, and you’re left with chunks of milk curd floating like pond scum in liquefied butter. When this happens, you throw it away. There’s no saving it, no going back. I had to figure out something else.

What to do with the beautiful wild New England scallops in the fridge? I was determined. I was hungry. I had to improvise. And what I came up with was better than my original concept, which was to drown the delicate flavor of the scallops in butter and cream. Not that this was, or ever is, a terrible idea; not by a long shot.

But this afternoon I was able to return, for a moment, to some of my favorite cooking maxims. The recipe savers. These are all flawed rules, guided by flawed taste and flawed logic, but I tell you…they work. The first rule being that putting an egg on something always makes it better. Maxim number two? Parmesan cheese. It works. And finally, a lot of lemon juice never hurt anybody. I mean, unless you’re squeezing it on a cut. But even that pain is not totally disagreeable.

And this is what I came up with. The orange I would have used for the sauce was repurposed and performed beautifully in a salad with endive and Italian parsley. A generous drizzling of lemon juice combined with egg yolk and Parmesan cheese on the plate to form a perfect rich sauce. There, a happy ending.

Until next time,

Seared Scallops, Poached Egg, Endive Salad


– 6-8 large scallops, rinsed and patted dry
– 1 tbsp salted butter
– 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
– 1 lemon, juiced
– 2 eggs
– Shaved Parmesan cheese
– Kosher salt
– Fresh ground black pepper

Endive Salad:
– 3 cups Belgian and red endive, julienned.
– 1 cup Italian parsley leaves, rinsed
– 2 navel oranges, supremed
– 1/2 cup shaved Parmesan cheese

– 4 tbsp fresh orange juice (I use juice squeezed from the discarded pulp of the supremed oranges)
– 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
– 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
– 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
– 1-2 tsp spicy mustard (I used Colman’s)
– 1/4 tsp orange zest
– Kosher salt
– Black pepper


Bring a small pot of salted water to boil. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix orange juice, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, mustard, orange zest and oil with a fork until emulsified. Then season with salt and pepper. In another bowl, combine julienned endive, orange segments, parsley and Parmesan cheese. Set aside.

In a heavy cast-iron skillet, melt butter with olive oil over medium-high heat. Lightly season scallops with salt and pepper. When butter begins to bubble and pop, place scallops in the pan, leaving equal space between them. Then don’t touch them until it’s time to flip. Brown them for a minute and a half to two minutes on each side.

After laying the scallops down, it’s time to poach your eggs. Crack each egg into its own small bowl. With the end of a wooden spoon, stir boiling water until it forms a whirlpool. Then drop the eggs into the water, first one, and then the other. Poach the eggs over low heat in simmering water for 2-3 minutes, until the whites are fully cooked but the yolk is still runny.

Dress the salad. Pour 2-3 tablespoons of dressing onto the salad and toss. Then pour off excess dressing. You will not… I repeat… do not… use all of the dressing. Save the rest for later. Split the salad between two plates. Arrange three to four seared scallops around the salad, drizzle liberally with lemon juice. Top the scallops with poached egg and generous shavings of Parmesan cheese.

3 thoughts on “Scallop, Egg, Orange, Endive

  1. John Mears (aka "Daddy") says:

    Having tasted the non-dairy (i.e. no-Parmesan) version of this recipe, which you cooked the other night, I can vouch that this is a very vouchable recipe. That is, it’s really amazingly delicious, without the cheese even, and even with the eggs done a little differently than above. By the way, loved the photos and the copy.

  2. Sarah says:

    I want that camera. And the ability to take photos during daylight.

    This looks delish, let’s plan a food blog get together on December 26th.

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