Scallops are among the tastiest gems of the sea, but they're easily overcooked. That's why I, for one, finally gave up trying to saute and grill them, and launched my years-long search for perfect scallops served in restaurants. (Remember, "perfect" is subjective.)
That search ended (at least temporarily) when I ordered the appetizer plate of the bivalve marine mollusks at the Terrace restaurant at Town & Country Village.
There, chef Michael Powers and co-owner/wife Margot Powers have put together a unique menu of specialty dishes that include twists on jambalaya, pulled pork and salmon BLT. But it was those scallops that stopped us. They're large, super-fresh, highly prized dayboat sea scallops, meaning they're brought from sea to land within 24 hours.
On the phone, Powers described how he cooks them. His techniques involve searing, steaming and deglazing. White wine, butter and olive oil play important roles.
The two accompanying sauces require the juices produced from wilting radicchio, spinach and fresh fennel in olive oil and wine, along with whole-grain mustard, cream, fresh pesto, salt and pepper. Reduction is key.
There are yet more ingredients, but you get the picture. Tab: $10 for three scallops on wilted greens, topped with microgreens.
"Timing is critical," Powers said. "The scallops take less than a minute, but you can't walk away from them, you have to be right there."
Do customers like them? "They're tied with the house-smoked salmon as our most popular appetizer," he said.
For the record, what we call scallops - those glistening white and yellowish rounds in the seafood cases of grocery stores - are actually the adductor muscles that are removed from whole scallops in the harvesting process. The adductor muscle attaches the scallop's two shells and controls their opening and closing, allowing the animal to "swim" in short bursts via water propulsion.
Interesting, but of little concern when you're sitting at the table with a plate of the delicacies in front of you.
Call the Terrace at (916) 486-1907 or visit www.theterracecuisine.com. Town & Country Village is at Marconi and Fulton avenues, Sacramento.