Fried Scallops and Fennel Slaw

  • 1 1/2 pounds medium sized bay or sea scallops
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 cups cornmeal fry mix
  • About 6 cups of either canola, grape seed or peanut oil for frying
  • Fennel Slaw and fennel fronds for garnish
  • Roast Pepper and Garlic Aioli

Pick over the scallops, removing the strap and any pieces of shell that might be mixed in.  Keep refrigerated.

Heat 3 inches of oil to a desired temperature in a 4 to 5-quart Dutch oven over medium heat or in a deep fryer.

You will be frying in 2 batches to avoid all the problems that happen when you overcrowd your fryer.  In anticipation of this, line a baking sheet with paper towels and preheat your oven to 250 degrees F.

While the oil is heating, pour the buttermilk into a large bowl and the fry mix in another.  Drop the seafood into the buttermilk and stir the seafood gently.  Using a Chinese wire mesh skimmer or a wire pasta basket, carefully lift up half of the scallops, allowing the excess buttermilk to drip back into the bowl.  Drop them into a fry mix.  Gently toss the seafood in the bowl to coat evenly with the mix, then lift them out with the skimmer, which has been washed and thoroughly dried.  Gently shake off the excess fry mix. 

When the oil is hot, dip the scallops carefully into the oil.  Let them cook for 15 to 20 seconds without moving them; if moved, some of the breading could fall off, making the dish greasy.  Then stir the scallops gently so they fry evenly.  Stay right there over the fryer, moving the seafood occasionally.  Cook for about 2 minutes until golden and crisp.

Using the mesh strainer, lift the scallops from the oil, allowing them to drain a little over the pot; then transfer them to th epaper towel-lined baking sheet.  The towels will absorb the excess cooking oil.  Keep the scallops warm in your oven while you fry the second batch.

Place a portion of the fennel slaw at the top of the center of the plate.  Spoon the Aioli in the front of the plate and place the fried scallops between the slaw and the Aioli.  Garnish with the fennel fronds.