Two-Toned Sea Scallops

Hotatégai no Dengaku

In the traditional Japanese kitchen, both light and dark bean pastes are used to make thick dengaku sauces; the light bean paste makes a mellow-flavored pale golden sauce, while the dark bean paste makes a more pungent and spicy brown sauce. Seared sea scallops taste delicious topped with both sauces, and here a pair of them—one light and one dark— make a single serving.

Ingredients

  • 16 large sea scallops
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon saké (Japanese rice wine)
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil, optional

Mellow Sauce

  • ¼ cup shiro miso (light fermented bean paste)
  • scant 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons saké (Japanese rice wine)

Pungent Sauce

  • ¼ cup aka miso (dark fermented bean paste)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons saké (Japanese rice wine)

Garnishes

  • 1 teaspoon white sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon black sesame seeds

Method

  1. Rinse the sea scallops and pat them dry. Lightly score one side of the scallops (to create a less slippery surface on which to spread the sauces).
  2. Combine the soy sauce and rice wine, and moisten the scallops in the mixture.
  3. Preheat a skillet, add the oil, and sear the scallops in a single layer, scored side first. If you use a non-stick surface, no oil will be necessary. Sear the scallops in batches if necessary. Flip the scallops and cook the other side for 1 minute. Transfer the scallops, scored side up, to a foil-lined rack, pan, or cookie sheet that will fit under your broiler or in your toaster-oven. Set aside, and preheat the broiler.
  4. In two small saucepans, combine the ingredients for the mellow sauce and the ingredients for the pungent sauce. Stir each well, and cook them both for 2-3 minutes, stirring as they cook. Both sauces will become glossy, bubbly, and thick, the consistency of ketchup. Set the sauces aside.
  5. In a clean, dry skillet, dry-roast the white sesame seeds over high heat for 30-40 seconds. Set them aside in a dish or bowl. Add the black sesame seeds to the same skillet and dry-roast them for 30-40 seconds. Set these aside separately.
  6. With a butter knife, spread the scored top of eight scallops with the mellow bean sauce and eight with the pungent bean sauce. Grill the scallops under the broiler for 1 minute, or until bubbly and ever so lightly charred. If you are using a toaster-oven, about 1 minute under top-broil heat should be enough.
  7. Garnish the light mellow-sauced scallops with black sesame seeds and the dark pungent-sauced scallops with the white sesame seeds. Serve hot or at room temperature.

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