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 Seared scallops Australian Fusion fare from Down Under.
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Seared scallops Australian

Australia has come a long way since its cuisine shared with its British ancestors a reputation for bland, overcooked meats and vegetables. Australia now holds a place of pride on the Pacific Rim, and a delicious "fusion" of East and West meets the best and freshest local ingredients in an international culinary marriage that's second to none.

After having focused so much on French fare recently as we gear up for next week's trip to Burgundy, I was in the mood for something completely different. Spinning the culinary globe to the other side of the Earth, we went Down Under for a simple dinner inspired by a memorable meal at Lilianfels, the world-class resort in the scenic Blue Mountains west of Sydney where I participated as a judge in the Sydney International Wine Competition last October.

Like a lot of the dishes I put together on the fly when the mood strikes, this doesn't purport to be a clone of the Lilianfels original, but is an invention based on a recent review of my quick notes taken during an enjoyable dinner there last year. I think it works - the base of tender white beans and earthy arugula turns simple fresh seared scallops into a full meal.

INGREDIENTS: (Serves two)

16-ounce can (500g) cannellini beans
Black pepper
Fresh sage
12 ounces (350g) large, fresh sea scallops
2 tablespoons butter
1 or 2 cloves garlic
2 cups fresh arugula (rocket)
Balsamic vinegar


1. Drain and rinse the beans. (If you prefer to start with dried white beans reconstituted by soaking and simmering, it's OK, but I find that quality canned beans work fine with this dish.) Put them in a saucepan with just enough water to cover, season to taste with salt, pepper and chopped fresh sage to taste. (Two or three short sprigs of sage, enough to make about a heaping teaspoon, is about right for me.) Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer.

2. When the beans are heated through, take about one-fourth of the beans and a little of the cooking liquid and mash them by hand or puree in a blender. Drain the remaining beans, stir in the bean puree, and keep warm.

3. Smash the garlic cloves and put them in a nonstick skillet with the butter, and sautee over medium-high heat until the garlic is aromatic and golden. Put in the scallops and cook just until seared on both sides but still sushi-style tender at the center. Don't overcook. Remove the scallops to a bowl and keep warm.

4. Still over medium-high heat, toss the arugula into the hot butter in the skillet and stir it just until it wilts. Discard the garlic, and divide the arugula between two warm plates. Put a portion of the sage-scented beans atop the greens, and perch a ration of the seared scallops on the beans. Decorate each plate with a swash of balsamic and serve.

WINE MATCH: This dish calls for a dry but rather full-bodied white wine; an Australian Chardonnay would make a geographically appropriate match, but any Chardonnay with good body and not-overwhelming oak, from California to Burgundy, should work fine.

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Admin Note: FoodLetter on vacation next week

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Last week's Wine Advisor Foodletter: Fricot de canard (May 13)

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Thursday, May 20, 2004
Copyright 2004 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

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