Seared Scallop Tacos with Spring Mango Salsa and Avocado Cream
Cinco de Mayo is coming, and I’m ecstatic.
It seems like everyone has had something to be Logan-style psyched about over the past couple weeks, and I’ve been feeling just the teensiest bit left out. The Goopies got It’s All Easy. Game of Thrones fans got their premiere. The Beyonce worshippers (aka most humans) got #Lemonade. And what did I get?
I’m tempted to scream “NOTHING!!!” à la Mugatu right now, but that would be slightly melodramatic. Especially since I did get plenty of Gwyneth fodder and the Rachael Ray/Rachel Roy mix-up out of the aforementioned events. Plus, while everyone else was making Gwyneth’s Vegenaise creations and direwolf (sp?) bread, or writing think pieces on the state of Beyoncé’s marriage, I had plenty of time to test tacos.
And now it’s my turn, people. I’m about to get my “thing” from the Universe. Like I said…
CINCO DE MAYO IS COMING.
After Thanksgiving, Cinco de Mayo is easily my favorite non-present holiday, and, along with Logena Xmas, it’s one of the two major annual parties hosted by yours truly. (Big batch margaritas are my favorite.)
For better or worse, a giant celebration just didn’t fit into the schedule this year, but that doesn’t mean I won’t be celebrating the Battle of Puebla next Thursday. There will simply be slightly fewer gallons of tequila involved, and my roommate will be the only one going HAM on the adult-themed piñata…
Given my affinity for Cinco de Mayo, it shouldn’t come as a shock that I already have my menu planned. I considered several options, including Dude Diet enchiladas and all manner of tacos and ‘dillas, but ultimately, I decided to conduct a few recipe experiments this week before committing to a recipe. There were some extremely grand plans to test taquitos and churros, but my oil splatter PTSD kicked in, and I made tacos instead. Seared Scallop Tacos with Spring Mango Salsa and Coconut-Avocado Cream to be exact.
The recipe testing stopped there.
If there were ever a time for expletives, it would be now, friends. I’m not sure why I haven’t made scallop tacos sooner because they are worthy of all my favorite adjectives: life-changing, mind-blowing, glorious, delightful, dank, etc., etc.
First and foremost, we’ve got fresh sea scallops. Seasoned with salt and pepper and quickly seared just until they develop a beautiful golden crust, they’re the stars of these flavor-packed tacos. Their awesomeness is enhanced by the silkiest coconut-laced avocado cream, which perfectly complements the scallops’ sweetness and provides a gentle jalapeño-induced kick. The scallops and cream together are enough to send your taste buds into overdrive, but it’s the spring-y mango and cherry tomato salsa with crunchy spring radish that really seals the deal. It adds just the right amount of tropical tang and herb freshness to each super textured bite.
In short, this combo is heaven in a tortilla, and you deserve to experience it ASAFP.
And these scallop tacos aren’t just insanely delicious, they’re easy too. Seriously. I’m talking 30 minutes from start to finish, max. You’ll need about 15 minutes to prep the salsa, 5 to blend the avocado cream, and then maybe 7 minutes total for the scallops. If you’ve seared scallops before, you already know that the process is quick and painless, but if you haven’t, don’t be scared. All you have to do is get your pan reallllly hot, add a little butter and olive oil, and cook them for about 90 seconds on each side. The trick is not to move the scallops once you put them in the pan. I know some of you will be tempted to check on their browning, but you must resist the urge. The only way they’ll develop that awesome crust is if you let them cook, undisturbed, for the full 90 seconds per side. Capiche?
Just one quick warning before I leave you. Your pan is going to smoke while you cook the scallops. It’s unavoidable. It shouldn’t be too bad, but if you have a sensitive smoke alarm make sure you’ve got a vent fan on, windows open, or an assistant fanning the device while you sear. Forewarned is forearmed.
Happy Cinco de Mayo week, friends! Margaritas coming at you Friday. And if you need more fiesta recipe ideas, check out the offerings from some of my favorite bloggers brought together by Feast + West and Joyfully Mad at the bottom of this post.
Seared Scallop Tacos with Spring Mango Salsa and Avocado-Coconut Cream: (Serves 4)
1¼ pound sea scallops (about 16 scallops)
Fresh ground pepper
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
8-10 corn tortillas
For the Spring Mango Salsa:
1 ripe mango, pitted, peeled, and diced small
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered
½ cup julienned (or finely chopped) radish
½ packed cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
Juice from 1 lime
Fresh ground pepper
For the Avocado-Coconut Cream:
1 ripe Haas avocado
Juice from 1 lime
1 jalapeño pepper, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup light coconut milk (the kind in the can)
½ teaspoon honey
Preparing your Seared Scallop Tacos with Spring Mango Salsa and Avocado-Coconut Cream:
-Pat the scallops dry and season well on both sides with kosher salt. Place them on a paper towel-lined plate and refrigerate while you prep the salsa and cream.
-Start with the salsa. Combine all the ingredients for the mango salsa in a mixing bowl. Season with salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
-Next, whip up the avocado-coconut cream. Remove the pit from your avocado and spoon the flesh into the bowl of a food processor (or blender).
-Add the remaining ingredients along with a pinch of salt, and process until silky smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl a few times if necessary. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
-Time to cook the scallops! Gently pat the scallops dry with paper towels (yes, you need to pat them dry twice), and season on both sides with fresh ground pepper.
-Heat your largest skillet (I like cast iron) over high heat. When hot, add ½ tablespoon each of the butter and olive oil. Once the butter is melted and bubbling, add half of the scallops to the skillet, leaving plenty of space between each one. Cook, undisturbed, for 90 seconds. DO NOT MOVE THE SCALLOPS. Carefully turn the scallops over and cook undisturbed for another 90 seconds. (Careful the fat may spit a little!) The scallops should develop a nice crust on the outside, but still be pink and slightly raw in the center. Don’t overcook them!
-Transfer the scallops to a paper towel-lined plate plate.
-Wipe out the skillet and return it to the heat. Add the remaining ½ tablespoon each of butter and olive oil to the skillet. When the butter is bubbling, repeat the cooking process with the remaining scallops.
-Slice all of the seared scallops into quarters.
-Warm your tortillas in the microwave, or place them directly on your burner for a couple seconds on each side to warm them through (and get a little char going).
-Scallop tacos assembly time! Spread each tortilla with a generous amount of avocado-coconut cream, and add some scallop pieces. (I recommend about 6-8 pieces per taco, but you do you.)
-Top with plenty of spring mango salsa and fiesta immediately.
Maybe put them on a fancy platter before serving because hot DAMN, they are sexy…
p.s. If you’re not into scallops, can’t get your hands on them, or simply don’t want to shell out, try the salsa and avocado-cream combo with any meat or fish of your choice.
And now, enough Cinco de Mayo recipes to last a lifetime!
Margarita Granita by Feast + West
Cinco de Mayo Party Inspiration and Recipes by A Joyfully Mad Kitchen
Poblano & Mushroom Tosadas by The Mexitalian
Roasted Strawberry Rhubarb Agua Fresca by Will Frolic for Food
Street Corn-style Roasted Potatoes by A Little Gathering
Pork & Black Bean Stew by think fruitful
Tequila Lime Tart by Love & Flour
Crispy Fish Tacos with Cajun Mayo by Winstead Wandering
Strawberry Watermelon Agua Fresca by A Savory Feast
Shredded Chicken Gorditas by Loves Food, Loves to Eat
Carne Asada Fries by Tornadough Alli
Mexican Carrot Dogs with Chunky Salsa Verde by Strength and Sunshine
Raspberry Lime Rickey Margaritas by Feed Me Phoebe
Slow Cooked Carnitas Style Chicken by Simple and Savory
Chicken Fajita Sandwich by Brunch-n-Bites
Cantaloupe Mint Margaritas by The Speckled Palate
Brussel Sprout, Wild Mushroom, Avocado and Feta Tacos with Tomatillo Salsa by Arthur Street Kitchen
Spiced Chocolate Ice Cream with Roasted Pepitas by Bethany Grow
Roasted Veggie Salsa by Living Well Kitchen
Blackberry Mint Agua Fresca by the Grant life
Traditional Homemade Flour Tortillas by Sustaining the Powers
Nightshade Free Southwest Salad by I Say Nomato
Southwestern Orzo Salad by Family Food on the Table
Cheesy Southwest Egg Rolls by Pink Cake Plate
Watermelon Mint Margarita by Gold & Bloom
Mix-Your-Own Guac Bar by Hey There Sunshine
Blood Orange Margaritas by Glisten and Grace
Veggie Stuffed Chiles Rellenos with Avocado Cream by Hello Little Home
Slow Cooker Red Chicken Enchiladas by Sustaining the Powers
Margerita Poke Cake by Pink Cake Plate
Mojito Cupcakes by The Rustic Willow
Margarita Shrimp Tacos by Macheesmo
Pineapple Cilantro Salsa by Feast + West
One Pot Taco Soup by A Joyfully Mad Kitchen
Sizzling Texas Fajitas by Sustaining the Powers
Tequila Lime Cupcakes with Margarita Buttercream by Sugar Dish Me
Slow Cooker Chipotle Turkey Tacos by Two Places at Once
Margarita Bar by Mixplorology
Never miss a post!
Get new recipes and lifestyle tips delivered straight to your inbox.