This dish sounds fancy but it is surprisingly simple to make. The important technique here is patience, both when making the sauce and while searing the scallops. Don’t rush either one. Even with patience, this dish is surprisingly quick to pull together.
Because buerre blanc is such a mild sauce, it doesn’t take much pawpaw pulp to give the dish a great pop of pawpaw flavor. Both Chef Rudie and Beth Riordan have discovered that lemon juice awakens the latent fruit flavors in the pawpaw. For this recipe, Meyer lemons are preferred because they are sweeter than the ubiquitous Eureka and Lisbon lemons. But any kind of lemon will add a welcome tropical fruit kick, because it’s that little bit of acid that brings the pawpaw flavor alive.
Pawpaw Buerre Blanc
1 shallot, finely minced
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 sticks unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1-tablespoon pieces
Sea salt, to taste
1/4 cup pawpaw pulp
Juice of 1 Meyer lemon
1½ pounds dry-packed sea scallops
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil per batch of scallops
Pawpaw Buerre Blanc
Place the shallot and white wine in a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat until liquid is reduced to about 2 tablespoons. (The remaining sauce should be thick and syrupy.) Add the heavy cream and bring to a boil. After 1 minute, start adding 1 tablespoon of butter at a time, whisking constantly, until the sauce is smooth and creamy Stir in sea salt to taste.
Finish sauce by reducing the heat to low, adding the pawpaw and lemon juice, and stirring until smooth. For an even smoother buerre blanc, strain the sauce through a fine-meshed sieve, discarding the remaining shallot bits.
While finishing the buerre blanc, heat 1 tablespoon of grapeseed oil in a stainless steel skillet over high heat. Sear the scallops in batches, a few at a time. Be careful not to crowd the scallops, otherwise they will steam and overcook.
When the scallops are sufficiently seared, they will “let go” of the pan. Flip the scallops and sear the other side. Transfer the seared scallops to a warm platter while searing the other batches.
Plate the scallops and drizzle with the Pawpaw Buerre Blanc. Serve with a simple pasta (like linguine), and your favorite wilted greens.