Are you ready to add a new cooking with tea tradition to the holiday table this year? Here’s an idea for a delicious and festive use of Chinese black tea which features fresh scallops, seasonal citrus juice and the elusive subtle flavor of a favorite tea from Anhui province, mainland China, with their characteristic thin tightly rolled leaves. With a quick flash in a hot pan, the delicate marine morsels add gloss and intrigue to any menu. Sweet tasting, scallops absorb flavors from the liquids surrounding them. Here’s how to get the most out of a short list of ingredients:
The down and dirty:
Brew up some of your favorite Keemun to normal drinking strength (3 grams per 8 ounces of 212° F. water) and set aside. Squeeze a few tangerines and sieve the juice. Finely mince a medium sized garlic clove. Lightly coat the bottom of a heavy skillet. If you like, you can add finely minced fresh ginger to add a little zing and heat to the dish.
To serve 4-6 as a festive appetizer
1 lb. fresh medium-sized scallops, well dried on absorbent paper towels
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Oil to sauté the scallops (canola, grapeseed or light olive would work here)
1 medium-sized garlic clove, smashed and then finely minced
1 piece measuring about 1” in length of fresh gingerroot, peeled and finely minced
¼ c. reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 c. freshly squeezed sweet citrus juice of your choice (orange, tangerine, clementine, pomelo)
1 c. brewed Keemun tea
1 T. sweet butter
Garnish: Scallion greens, finely sliced
Ingredients may be gathered and measured out early in the day when you are serving the dish. Refrigerator and cover.
When ready to prepare the dish, which should be just before serving, heat the skillet with a film of oil in it. Carefully place the scallops in the pan and over high heat, sear both sides. Quickly remove them from the pan and place on a plate, covered to keep warm. With the heat turned down to medium, add the garlic (and ginger, if using) and sauté until fragrant. Do not brown. Add the soy, citrus juice, and tea and bring to a boil to reduce by half. When reduced, return the scallops and any juices that have collected in the plate where you stored the scallops and cook for another minute or so to reduce the pan sauce to coating consistency. Off heat, add butter and stir to melt and blend. Serve immediately on warmed plates over Chinese egg noodles or other pasta. Shower the dish with thinly sliced bits of scallion greens.