This is pretty much the recipe as seen in the dining section of the New York Times here by chef . I made a few changes that are within parentheses. It turned out pretty good.
Scallops With Seaweed Butter
Recipe: Scallops With Seaweed Butter
Adapted from L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon
Time: 20 minutes
4tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
8 large fresh sea scallops
8tablespoons ( 1/2 cup) rock salt, for serving
1/4 sheet nori (edible sea weed), finely chopped (or snipped with scissors) to make 8 pinches, or 8 pinches thyme leaves
1/2 a lime
Fleur de sel (Fleur de sel "Flower of salt" in French) is a hand-harvested sea salt collected by workers who scrape only the top layer of salt before it sinks to the bottom of large salt pans. Traditional French fleur de sel is collected off the coast of Brittany, and is slightly grey due to the sandy minerals collected in the process of harvesting the salt from the pans.)
Piment d’Espelette (Piment d'Espelette is a long, red pepper cultivated in the Basque region of France. It is the star in the region's signature dishes, giving a not-too-hot, fruity finish to many recipes. During the fall months the façades of the houses, especially in the village of Espelette, are hung with garlands of these bright red peppers drying in the sun. A festival celebrating the pepper is held the last weekend of October. )
freshly ground black pepper.
1. Arrange 8 clean scallop shells or individual gratin dishes on baking sheet. Using pastry brush and about 2 tablespoons of butter, brush each scallop all over with butter. Set 1 scallop in each shell, and refrigerate until the butter is firm, 10 to 15 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat broiler to high.
2. Neatly mound 2 tablespoons rock salt, spacing them well apart, on each of four large plates; set aside. Remove scallops from refrigerator and sprinkle each with a pinch of nori. Dot with remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Broil until scallops are barely cooked through, about 3 minutes (I found that even 2 minutes may be enough).
3. Transfer scallop shells to plates, nestling each into a mound of salt. Sprinkle with lime juice as desired, and season with fleur de sel and piment d’Espelette to taste. Serve immediately.
(I did not have fleur de sel, so I just used some kosher sea salt which has a distinct flavor to it as well. In the absence of piment d’Espelette, I used some paprika, though I am sure something like ground chipotle peppers would work too, as would the amazing varieties of ground peppers that one can find in the grocery store or online. I am probably going to try this again and am thinking of adding a dab of wasabi and some freshly made soy ginger sauce on the scallops.)
Yield: 4 servings.
While I have had scallops before, this is the first time I cooked them at home. What seduced me was the elegance and simplicity of this dish and it's almost minimalistic nature. The short cooking time was an added bonus too.
The sea salt, the delicate taste of the nori, a hint of paprika seasoning and the zest of fresh lime and ground pepper came together rather well along with the succulence of the scallops. The next round with wasabi and soy ginger sauce should take this dish to a different place. I am sure there are more variations to this that one can come up with.