August 10th, 2011

Seared Sea Scallops, sweet corn, in tomato-pepper broth


Today’s beauteous recipe was inspired by the work of a Nashville chef, Roderick Bailey. He owns The Silly Goose, a charming restaurant in East Nashville, one of my favorite dining haunts. Don’t be misled by its name. While the Goose attitude is upbeat, light-hearted, and occasionally silly, the Goose Food is anything but.

In an economy of space, The Silly Goose folks make some serious good food.

Recently, Roderick offered a dish, similar to the one above, as an evening special. We had taken a seat at the bar that looks into the kitchen, and asked for his recommendation. His description made my decision a simple one.

“The scallops just came in and look really really nice,” he said. “And, I’ve made a kind of pureed gazpacho using these fantastic heirloom tomatoes, and organic peppers. I’ll quickly pan-sear the scallops, and place them in the soup mounded with skillet fried corn–fresh silverqueen. And then, I’ll garnish them with young pea tendrils.”


What a bowl of pleasure. A spoon-only meal! I could scoop through the crisp-seared scallops, the spoonful holding corn and heady broth along with each tender bite. Each element held its own kind of sweetness: from candy-acid delight of tomatoes, to the bursting kernels of corn to the briny, almost floral sweet notes of the scallops. The bright green tangle of pea tendrils collapsed and cooked into the broth.

I couldn’t wait to recreate it, and had the right opportunity the following week, when we had guests for dinner.


Well-conceived, the recipe can be made in three simple steps.
Its success relies on fresh picked produce for imparting deep flavors.

Lucky-lucky, my garden had already provided tomatoes and peppers a plenty.

I spread them out on a baking sheet pan, coated them with olive oil, a little sea salt, and roasted them to bring out the natural sugars. Then I simmered and strained the caramelized mass, until it made this lush red broth.

The rest was easy. I love skillet-fried corn, a true Southern cooking technique; unlike creamed corn, or corn pudding, its taste is true, uncomplicated by dairy or eggs. I recommend this preparation to enjoy on its own. Good scallops don’t require much–a liberal dose of salt, pepper, and paprika—cooked on high in a butter-oil combo. No pea tendrils in my purview, but some fresh arugula readily accommodated–a peppery green contrast.

I served these sumptuous bowls with wedges of cornbread, baked in my cast iron skillet, riddled with jalapeno bite. Almost unthinking, one by one, we all broke small hunks into the soup. It added yet another dimension. The table fell quiet, each of us savoring the rare union of soulful sophistication.


4 lbs. Ripe Tomatoes, cored and cut in half (can use a combination of cherry tomatoes, if you like)
1 Red Bell Pepper, cut in half, deseeded
3 Assorted Banana Peppers, stems removed
2 Jalapenos, stems removed
1 large Onion, quartered
4 cloves Garlic
Olive Oil
salt and pepper

Place all the vegetables onto a roasting pan. Brush with olive oil, and season with salt and black pepper.
Roast in a preheated 400 degree oven for 20 minutes, until skins are blackened and blistered.
Cool, and run all the veggies (and their juices, and oils) through a food mill–twice.
Heat in a saucepan and thin with water.
Taste for seasoning.

Makes 8 cups.


4 ears Fresh Corn on the Cob, husked and cleaned of corn silk
4 T. Butter
Sea Salt and Coarse Ground Black Pepper
Water about 1/4 cup

The trick to this is how you cut the kernels. Holding the ear of corn upright in a bowl with one hand, slice down through the kernels—only halfway through, exposing the kernel center and the most “corn milk.” Using the back of the knife, scrape down the cob to get out the remaining kernel pulp. Scrape back and forth to get the most out of each ear.

Over medium heat, melt the butter in a skillet and add the scraped kernels. Stir well, coating the corn. Add water, as needed. (Some ears of corn are milkier than others!) Season with salt and pepper. Sometimes people add a pinch of sugar, but fresh corn is naturally sweet and won’t need it.

Stirring often, cook for about 10 minutes. The frying of the corn is more like a sauté; the natural sugars and starch from the corn will lightly thicken the mixture.


1 lb. (or so ) Diver’s Sea Scallops (figure 3-4 scallops per person)
Sea Salt
Cracked Black Pepper
Olive Oil and Butter–combo for searing, 1-2T. each

Rinse scallops and pat dry. Liberally season both sides with paprika, salt and pepper.
Heat butter and olive oil together in a heavy skillet, just below smoking point.
Sear scallops, about 1 minute per side. Remove from heat.

Ladle hot Tomato-Red Pepper Broth into bowls.
Spoon fried corn to the center of each bowl.
Place scallops on top of corn mound. They will sink a little into the broth—that’s good.
Garnish with fresh arugula, if desired.


Posted in Fish/Seafood, Gluten Free, Recipes, Soups/Stews

27 Responses to “Seared Sea Scallops, sweet corn, in tomato-pepper broth”
  1. Tracy Says:

    “The table fell quiet…” I love that.

  2. Denise | Chez Danisse Says:

    This looks so good. I’ve never seen corn done quite this way and look forward to trying it. Another beauty, Nancy. You do not disappoint.

  3. Patsy Says:

    What a feast for the eyes! Certainly had me longing for taste-a-vision!

  4. Fluffy Says:

    looks amazing. love skillet fried corn. those scallops rock!

  5. Laura Says:

    Oh my… This looks delicious! I have fresh corn waiting in the fridge and thanks to your great coaching I think I can give it a go! Thanks Nancy!!

  6. Carrie Says:


  7. Barefeet In The Kitchen Says:

    This sounds amazing. I love all of those flavors already, combining them is a recipe for deliciousness!

  8. Madeleine Says:

    Want it right NOW!

  9. Nic@diningwithastud Says:

    This looks so delicious! Perfectly cooked scallops – what a meal :) I want this for dinner!!

  10. Kitchen Belleicious Says:

    Absolutely hands down the best recipe I have ever seen! I love the sweetness and delicacy of scallops. just did them myself last week with a gratin but I love this dish even more! Wonderful pictures!

  11. Chris Says:

    what a beautiful combination
    simple and elegant for a dinner party

  12. kankana Says:

    I am a huge sea food lover and scallops have always been my fav. This is looking so comforting and also love the gorgeous color.

  13. Christine @ Fresh Local and Best Says:

    This is a wonderful fresh summer garden inspired recipe! I love the tomato pepper broth, which is so versatile. I’m looking forward to making it soon.

  14., Teresa Blackburn Says:

    I would just love to sop some good crusty bread in that tomato-pepper broth! I pretty much do not eat seafood unless I am at the seashore but these scallops look very, very yummy.

  15. Tammy Says:

    Bookmarked for the split second that I come off the raw food diet. Oh yum! This is gorgeous and what great instructions you’ve provided.

  16. Katarina Says:

    So ready for this!!

  17. Faith Says:

    This sounds like such a flavorful dish! That pan of veggies getting ready to be roasted is gorgeous. And the scallops are cooked to perfection!

  18. Denise | Chez Danisse Says:

    I made a version of this last night. I didn’t have scallops, but it was still delicious. Thank you for inspiring me.

  19. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Denise–I’m so glad you enjoyed it. I should have mentioned that I also made this with wild hen-of-the-woods mushrooms, grilled with thyme, as the alternative to the scallop centerpiece. It worked beautifully as a vegetarian dish. thanks! Nancy

    Tammy–good luck with the raw food diet—I am most curious how you will enjoy it, and how it will make you feel.

  20. Leisa Hammett Says:

    Oh. Yum! Yum! Yum! All of these! Haven’t peeked here in a while. Hello!

  21. heather Says:

    Any chance you want be a traveling chef and come re-create this with me in my kitchen?!

  22. Juliana Says:

    Wow, I love scallops and I love the way you prepared them…looks so pretty and SO SO tasty.
    Hope you are having a great week Nancy :-)

  23. Keely aka The Richest Girl in Bondi Says:

    I literally let out an ‘ahhh’ when I saw this picture load on the website. I’m a sucker for seared scallops and these ingredients look like the perfect combo (and so fresh!). Thanks!

  24. Kayarina Says:

    I made this this evening and it was delicious! Loved the roasted pepper flavors along with the corn texture and sweetness and especially the peppery arugula acompaniment! I added shrimp to mine which was okay but not as good as just the scallops.
    Great fare for a small dinner party thats not a lot of fuss! Thanks

  25. Kayarina Says:

    Oops, that’s Nancy, hope it gets corrected.

  26. Barefeet In The Kitchen Says:

    I actually sighed when I saw this. Skillet corn? Check yes. Those scallops? Most definitely yes. Roasted garden fresh veggies? oh yes. The whole combination sounds delicious.

  27. Shut Up and Cook Says:

    Don’t you love trying to recreate dishes you’ve had at restaurants?!

    That’s exactly what I did here if you’re interested:

    Seared Sea Scallops on Bacon Polenta Topped with Chanterelles

    It was out of this world. Great blog by the way!

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