Need a knockout seafood recipe for a special occasion? Try these curry-dusted scallops with French herbs and spices served with a slightly sweet apple broth.
I love curries! Note the plural. Lots of folks think there is only one type of curry and it’s labeled “curry powder” in the spice aisle of your grocery store. Wrong!
Curry blends originated in India and Pakistan as a way of preserving meat. In the oppressively hot weather, meat would spoil almost immediately, even if cooked.
The resourceful natives of India and Pakistan learned that meat would keep longer if it had been cooked in spices such as coriander, cumin, hot peppers, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, paprika, turmeric, cloves, fennel, fenugreek, anise seed, cardamom, mustard seeds, allspice, curry leaves, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, and lemongrass.
Different curry traditions started to emerge around the world as families started developing their own secret blends.
A Few Types of Curry
So which curry blends did I get?
- Vadouvan – a smoky French curry blend containing onion, salt, shallots, cumin, turmeric, garlic, black mustard seeds, cardamom, black pepper, fenugreek, sugar and hickory smoke. Featured in the curry-dusted scallops below.
- Thai Green Curry – a spicy Thai blend containing galangal, cumin, coriander, lemongrass, red Thai chiles, Lampong peppercorns, cilantro, Kaffir lime leaves, jalapeño, shallots, garlic and mild green chile powder. Featured in Green Curry Chicken with Mango.
- Zanzibar – a sweet African blend containing coriander seeds, cumin seeds, yellow mustard seeds, fennel seeds, cinnamon, turmeric, brown sugar, paprika and cayenne. Featured in Zanzibar Carrots.
- Ras el Hanout – meaning “top of the shop,” this Moroccan blend contains nutmeg, sea salt, black pepper, ginger, cardamom, mace, cinnamon, allspice, turmeric and saffron. Featured in Zanzibar Carrots and Moroccan Eggplant Stew.
- Baharat (salt-free) – slightly spicy Middle Eastern blend containing paprika, Lampong pepper, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, cloves, ginger, cayenne, cardamom and nutmeg. Featured in Butternut Squash Soup with Apples and Carrots.
- Chat Masala – Americanized version of an Indian blend containing mango powder, sea salt, cumin, black pepper, ajowan, guajillo chiles, peppermint, garlic, onion and citric acid. Featured in Slow Cooker Vegetable Curry.
- Harissa Spice Mix – a fiery North African blend containing japone peppers, cumin, coriander, paprika, garlic, salt and caraway. I have used it mixed with oil and water to create a paste for marinating beef. Yum! Also featured in Curried Squash Seeds.
Now it’s time to talk Vadouvan curry blend. And scallops. And apples.
Vadouvan is a French-inspired curry powder with a bit of a hickory smoked-onion taste. It’s milder than a lot of curries and marries well with seafood, poultry, and vegetable dishes.
I just checked the Savory Spice website and they say not to use Vadouvan in a high-heat cooking process, that it’s better in sauces and marinades. It’s a good thing I used medium-high heat for my curry-dusted scallops!
Don’t overcook your scallops or they will be rubbery. Just watch the sides of the scallops as they cook. You’ll see them go from translucent to opaque from the bottom up. When they are opaque halfway up the side, flip them. When they are opaque all the way up the side, they’re done.
The broth contributes a very intense apple flavor and the celery and apple chunks lend texture to these mouth-watering curry-dusted scallops.
Vadouvan Curry-Dusted Scallops with Apple Broth
- 2 stalks stalks celery with leaves, coarsely chopped
- 1 tart apple coarsely chopped with skin, core and seeds (I used Granny Smith)
- 5 cups unsweetened apple juice
- 2 shallots sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
- 1 star anise
- 12 large sea scallops patted dry
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2-1/2 teaspoons Vadouvan curry blend or curry powder divided
- 2 tablespoons olive oil divided
- 1 tart apple peeled, cored and chopped into 1/4-inch cubes (I used Granny Smith)
- 1 stalk celery trimmed and thinly sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
- Place celery, apple, apple juice, shallots, mustard seeds, and star anise in a large heavy saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat.
- Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for about 45 minutes or until liquid has reduced and is syrupy. Strain and set aside. Discard solids.
- Preheat oven to 250°F. Season scallops with salt and pepper. Place 2 teaspoons of Vadouvan curry blend on a small plate. Dip both flat sides of scallops in curry; place on large plate.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in heavy large skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium-high heat. Add scallops and cook until seared on first side, about 2 minutes. (Do not crowd the scallops in the pan or you won’t get a nice sear. You may need to do more than one batch, depending on the size of your pan.) Flip scallops and cook another 2 minutes or so, until seared on second side and barely opaque in the center. Transfer to a small baking sheet and place in oven to keep warm.
- Heat remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in the same skillet. Add apple and celery. Sauté until apple begins to soften, about 3 minutes. Add apple broth and remaining 1/2 teaspoon Vadouvan curry blend. Increase heat to high and boil until mixture thickens, about 10 minutes. Stir in vinegar. Season with salt, pepper and more vinegar, if desired.
- Divide broth mixture among 4 shallow pasta bowls. Add scallops and garnish with chives.