Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Day 188! United States of America ~ Pan Seared Scallops with Cider Brown Butter and Field Greens - Up Next, Uruguay

Finally! Nearly two years since first starting this journey, I have reached my beloved homeland, the United States of America. But what to cook to represent this vast country? I thought about cheese burgers, chocolate shakes and apple pie, but that felt too, dare I say, American? Since the United States is one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse countries in the world, it's impossible to capture all of the culinary traditions Americans eat today with one meal or dish.

Map Courtesy of Lonely Planet
So... I got to thinking about who was here first. That led me to the indigenous people who inhabited this land some 10,000 to 35,000 years prior to America's discovery by European explorers and settlers. Although there are hundreds of Native American and Indian tribes, bands, clans and groups in this country, all with distinct cultures, customs and beliefs, I turned to the Wampanoag Tribe on the island of Martha's Vineyard for inspiration, because four generations of my family have summered and lived on the island since the 1930's. That seems like a long time, but in comparison, the Wampanoag have lived on this beautiful island  for more than 10,000 years. Despite unimaginable injustices, death due to foreign diseases, and dislocation from their land in the 1700's, the Wompanoag Tribe are a strong, thriving community in Aquinnah (Gay Head). Today, their customs, traditions and culture live on, including their ancient language, nearly lost after 150 years of dormancy, which is currently being reclaimed by the Wopanaak Reclamation Project.

As luck would have it, a little searching led me to the Wampanoag Tribe website, complete with recipes from their cookbook. I chose an amazing scallop dish because it uses local New England ingredients - plus, who in her right mind passes up an opportunity to eat scallops? To compliment these sea-jewels, I found locally-grown sunflower greens and a super-micro mix  (seriously, the tiniest greens I've EVER seen), of watercress, mizuna, red giant mustard and crimson mustard. So, while this meal represents only a fraction of the culinary traditions in America, it's a place to start that both honors and celebrates the United States of America, it's first inhabitants and the many immigrants who followed.

Map Courtesy o f Lonely Planet
The United States of America is federal constitutional republic made up of 50 states and the federal Disctrict of Columbia. Situtated mostly in North America, the U.S. is bordered by Canada and Mexico, with the state of Alaska to the Northwest and the state of Hawaii in the mid-Pacific. The U.S's maritime borders are the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. First inhabited by indigenous people who migrated from Asia, the population was greatly diminished due to displacement, war and disease that was introduced by European explorers who created the first 13 British Colonies along the Atlantic Seaboard. On July 4, 1776 the Declaration of Independence was created following the defeat of the British Empire during the American Revolution. In 1778, the U.S. Constitution that we know today was adopted, and in 1791, the Bill of Rights with 10 Constitutional Amendments was ratified, proclaiming the fundamental civil rights of all people regardless of race or creed. In 1860, the Civil War between the South and North over the institution of slavery and states rights, with the North prevailing to end the legal enslavement of African American people, a shameful practice that existed for more than a century before the founding of the United States. Since there's no way I can do justice to U.S. history, past or recent, in this little blog, please refer to U.S.A History for a more in-depth discussion.

One of the most bio-diverse countries in the world, the U.S. landscape includes the coastal planes of the Atlantic Seaboard, the forests of the Pacific west, mountains, lakes, rivers and the deserts of the Midwest and western states and active volcanoes in Alaska and Hawaii. Rich in animal and plant life, the U.S. agricultural landscape produces corn, wheat, soybeans, sorghum, rice, hay and virtually every kind of fruit, berry and vegetable imaginable. As you can imagine, it's difficult to pin-point any one culinary influence, since  aside from regional cooking, America is home to thousands different ethnic groups, each with their own influences and traditions.

Cider, a Granny Smith apple, sage and butter for the sauce

 Reduce cider to 3 Tbsp., and julienne apple - fresh lemon juice add zest and keeps colors fresh
 Lovely sea scallops 
 Season with salt and pepper, then sear in a heavy, hot skillet - in butter - never forget the butter
 Do not overcook - about 2 minutes on each side will do it
 Melt remaining butter, add cider, lemon juice and sage - simmer until slightly thickened
 Serve- I used sunflower sprouts and super-mini-macro greens - but wild rice would be great too!

Seared Scallops with Cider Brown Butter  (Adapted from Wampanoag Tribe Cookbook)

1 cup apple cider
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound sea scallops, patted dry with paper towels (see note)
1 Granny Smith apple, cored and julienned
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
16 small fresh sage leaves
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
In a large skillet, bring the cider to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil for 6 to 8 minutes, or until reduced to about 3 tablespoons. Pour into a bowl and set aside.
In another large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Season the scallops with the salt and pepper. Cook the scallops until lightly browned on the outside and opaque throughout, about 2 minutes on each side (do not overcook). Remove from the pan and keep warm.
Add the remaining 4 tablespoons butter to the skillet. Brown the butter over medium heat, being careful not to burn. Stir in the reduced cider, half of the julienned apple, the sage, and lemon juice. Simmer until the apple is tender and the sauce is slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
To serve, put the scallops on a bed of wild rice or field greens on a plate, and spoon on the sauce. Garnish with the remaining julienned apple.
Yield: 4 servings

© 2010-2011, What's Cooking in Your World? Sarah Commerford/All Rights Reserved


OysterCulture said...

Wow, great call with this recipe. it looks about perfect and I love the use of cider butter, and for field greens, I am thinking I want to forage some miners lettuce

OysterCulture said...

also, I just tried to give the post a 5 start rating but it stopped me at one. Not representative of reality.

sadie said...

Thanks, Astrid! Have the rains stopped??!! xoxo

sadie said...

5 stars??!!! Wow! Hugs :)

Sylvie + family said...

I do appreciate your history/geo research effort as much as your recipes Sarah. Difficult to pick only 1 recipe, and for your own country ! Love scallops, I keep this recipe in mind. Hugs.

Anna said...

What a perfect choice for USA. This sounds and looks SO good and I know I can find all the ingredients! Beautiful pics and great info.

Anna said...

What a perfect choice for USA. And it looks SO good, I can almost smell it! Definitely something I can find the ingredients for as well. Very interesting background info.

sadie said...

Thank you, Anna! xox

Young Werther said...


And there are so many great seafood ingredients available to you lucky people Stateside (thinking about those lobsters) Mmmmm...

sadie said...

Thank you, YW! I think you must have a pretty impressive seafood selection too! Thanks for stopping in!

Andreea said...

this looks great!

sadie said...

Thanks, Andreea! I hope you'll try it!