Tomato Parmesan Scallop Bisque
What do you do when you have a serious craving for a creamy, cheesy, tomato bisque, but also for deliciously seared scallops?! Well you combine the two, naturally 😉 It took a little brain power but I’ve conjured up a combination of flavors here that just can’t be beat. I happened to have a couple of jars of my canned garden tomatoes on hand but store-bought canned Roma tomatoes work perfectly as well, especially with my additional pairing of sun-dried tomatoes, whoa BABY.
If scallops don’t float your boat, fear not! You can omit them altogether and still have a perfectly decadent Tomato Parmesan bisque on your hands. OR, you can replace the scallops with some tasty pan-seared shrimp as well. (Note to self for next time…)
If you do go the scallop route however, there is some important information to note though about achieving that perfect, rich, golden outer crust when you sear them. It’s all about having control over the amount of moisture in the scallops. Overly moist scallops give off a lot of water when they cook, which causes a great deal of evaporation, which causes the scallops to steam, instead of sear. Gaining control over that moisture begins with determining whether or not your scallops are “wet” (not ideal, but fixable), or “dry.”
A little background info: A good portion of the scallops sold in the US are known as “wet” scallops, meaning that they’ve been soaked in phosphates for the purposes of preserving them, whitening them, and allowing them to gain water weight. This phosphate bath leaves them with a soapier taste, and after being cooked, they’re smaller, tougher, and less flavorful. Needless to say, dry scallops are of higher quality and cost more per pound, but wet scallops are much more dense in moisture and are heavier as a result, which plays into the cost anyway. This picture is a good visual of what wet scallops look like, versus dry ones.
With a little additional preparation, you can still achieve a perfect sear with wet scallops. So, first thing’s first:
How to test your scallops for wet vs. dry:
Place a paper towel on top of a microwave safe plate. Place a single scallop on the paper towel and microwave at 100% for 15 seconds. If the paper towel has a decent amount of moisture on it, you’ve got wet scallops on your hands. Alternatively, if the paper towel is fairly dry, you’ve got dry scallops and can proceed with searing.
How to “fix” wet scallops:
In a large microwave safe bowl, combine 1 cup of water, ¼ cup of lemon juice, and 2 Tablespoons of salt. Heat in the microwave in 30 second increments, stir, and repeat until the salt is fully dissolved. From here, allow it to cool, placing it in the fridge if needed (you don’t want the scallops to cook in it).
Add the scallops and let them soak for 30-40 minutes in the fridge. Then proceed with steps outlined below!
Feel free to dress your bisque up with an extra sprinkling of Parmesan and basil!