Scallops with Cara Cara Gastrique

Post image for Scallops with Cara Cara Gastrique

by Nancy Buchanan on February 17, 2012

I’m b-a-a-c-k!!

I know, things have been a little quiet here at The Table. I had Valentine’s all planned out for you and then a little stomach virus, a schedule change and .. well, that whole domino thing kicked in and my  well oiled schedule went AWOL.

I am slowly but surely digging my way out. Emphasis here on slow.

The good news is that even though Valentine’s day has come and gone you don’t have to wait until next Valentine’s Day to make this – and I seriously hope you don’t!

Although I adore the hearty and heavier foods of winter, about this time of year I start craving fresher, lighter flavors.  This seems especially true this year since  the  winter weather here in Southern California is also AWOL -  one day it’s in the high 70′s and the next in the 50′s and I waver between firing up the grill and making a hearty soup. So, over the next few weeks the dishes here on the Table seem a bit mixed up you’ll know why!

Ok, enough about the weather. Let’s get to the food!

Scallops with Cara Cara GastriqueBC2 Scallops with Cara Cara Gastrique

Since I’ve got some spring gigs coming up, I’ve been working on some spring menus and have  had this recipe bookmarked for some time. It features two of my favorite ingredients – citrus and seafood . When designing catering menus, I look for dishes that not only sound different and intriguing, but have great color  and texture  and  that don’t require a lot of last minute preparation – which, BTW, is also my criteria for Valentine’s Day dinner!!  These scallops meet every single criteria and then some – they are great as an appetizer, but also as a main dish (served with some decadent potatoes as a side or just some good, crusty bread) or would make a beautiful and elegant  lunch.

Scallops with Cara Cara Gastrique

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 30 minutes

1 hour, 30 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Serving Size: 3 scallops

Adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine. I used cara cara oranges for the gastrique and blood oranges for the salad since that is what I had on hand but you can use either for the sauce or the salad. If using blood oranges, the sauce will be a deeper, richer red color. When searing scallops the key is to make sure your scallops are very dry and that your pan is very hot!


  • For the gastrique:
  • 3 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. sherry wine vinegar
  • 1 cup fresh cara cara or blood orange juice, strained
  • 1 1/2 cups low sodium chicken stock
  • For scallops:
  • 2 blood or cara cara oranges, peeled and separated into segments
  • 1/2 cup fresh italian parsley leaves
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 1 dozen dry boat scallops, side muscle removed
  • 1 large bunch asparagus, cut into 1 1/2 inch lengths
  • 2 Tbsp. canola oil
  • Salt and pepper


  1. For the gastrique:
  2. Measure out the sherry vinegar, orange juice and chicken stock and set aside. In a small heavy bottomed saucepan place the sugar. Heat the saucepan over medium heat until the sugar melts. When the sugar melts and starts to turn golden, swirl the mixture until all the sugar is melted and the mixture is a nice golden color like honey - about 3- 4 minutes. Add the vinegar. It will sputter and the sugar will harden so don't worry. Add the orange juice and stir until the sugar melts and the mixture is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken sauce and bring mixture to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook over medium low heat for 12 - 15 minutes until the sauce is reduced to 1/2 cup. Take off the heat and set aside. (Can be made 2 days ahead - cover and refrigerate if making ahead and re warm before serving).
  3. For the salad and scallops:
  4. Stack 2 or 3 paper towels on a cutting board and place the scallops on top. Top with another 2 - 3 paper towels. Place the parsley and mint in a small bowl and set aside. Bring a medium sized saucepan of water to a boil. Cook the asparagus for 2 - 3 minutes until the asparagus is tender but still firm to the bite. Drain the asparagus and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
  5. In a large skillet (don't use a nonstick) heat 1 1/2 Tbsp. of canola oil until it is hot and the oil shimmers but doesn't smoke. Add the scallops to the pan, spacing them about 1 1/2 inches apart. Let cook for 1 - 2 minutes or until scallops easily release from the pan. Turn scallops over and cook for another 1 - 2 minutes until they are browned and caramelized on the bottom. While scallops are cooking, toss the parsley and mint with the remaining 1/2 Tbsp. of canola oil and season with salt and pepper. Remove scallops from pan and set aside. Turn off the heat and add the asparagus to the pan to re warm.
  6. To assemble to salad, place 3 scallops on each of 4 plates. Divide the asparagus and orange sections evenly among the plates and garnish with the parsley and mint. Drizzle with the gastrique and season lightly with salt and pepper. Serve.
 Scallops with Cara Cara Gastrique







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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

aida mollenkamp February 17, 2012 at 11:40 am

I love cooking with gastriques and I really love citrus with seafood. Thanks for sharing, Nancy!


the urban baker February 17, 2012 at 11:43 am

Nancy, this could be just what I need right about now. I am so craving low fat, low carb meals and all these flavors combined looks so wonderful!


Allison [Girl's Guide to Social Media] February 17, 2012 at 4:43 pm

I crave lighter and fresher flavors this time of year also. I just love how flavorful and healthy this salad looks. I am craving scallops now….haven’t had them in quite sometime.


Lisa February 17, 2012 at 6:13 pm

Oh, how I love perfectly seared scallops, and paired withb the cara cara’s, mint, parsley, vinegar etc, I can only imagine how wonderful it tastes. Such a beautiful plating – so colorful. Glad you’re feeling better after that stomach virus! Nothing worse come Valentines Day, with all the chocolate to be had ;)


Carolyn February 18, 2012 at 7:08 am

Oh no! Sorry you were sick like that. But I agree, it’s nice to see some lighter things on the menu at this time of year. Looks beautiful!


Barbara | Creative Culinary February 18, 2012 at 8:06 am

This is gorgeous. Not only because I love all of the ingredients but really truly a beautiful picture of what the season has to offer. Glad you are feeling better; shows you that no matter the type of weather…even people in SoCal can sometimes be under it. :)


Nancy February 26, 2012 at 1:45 pm

Thanks Barb!!
I am so rarely ill that it really took my by surprise and REALLY messed with my schedule. STILL trying to dig my way out but I am seeing light at the end of the tunnel.. just hoping it’s not an oncoming train!!


Esi February 19, 2012 at 11:17 am

This is a beautiful dish. I love the pinkish interior of cara cara oranges.


Lynne @ CookandBeMerry February 19, 2012 at 1:58 pm

The first thing I thought when I saw this post was: Wow, what a beautiful photograph. Then I realized what a delicious dish it was and how much I would like to eat it. Now. The gastrique…Mmmmm.


Nancy February 26, 2012 at 1:44 pm

Hi Lynne!!
Aww. thank you Lynne – I feel the same way about your photographs!! I have to say, this dish was pretty darn tasty… going to try it again with the Pixie Tangerines!!


Gloria February 19, 2012 at 9:45 pm

Hi Nancy! Glad to hear you are on the mend. Your scallops are gorgeous. I’m not sure what a gastrique is, but it sounds delicious based on the list of ingredients. Will be flagging this one. Mostly because I want to say I’ve made a gastrique!


Nancy February 26, 2012 at 1:43 pm

Hi Gloria!!

Gastriques are so easy to make and this one is a great counterpoint to the rich scallops – and it’s definitely a fun word to say!!!


Amanda February 20, 2012 at 7:58 am

What a fabulous plate! Absolutely gorgeous.


Cookin' Canuck February 22, 2012 at 9:14 am

Your photos are looking fabulous, Nancy! As for these scallops – well, I am salivating. What a fantastic combination of flavors.


sippitysup February 22, 2012 at 10:22 am

Really pretty. GREG


Priscilla - She's Cookin' February 23, 2012 at 4:40 pm

Love your plating and the vibrant colors. I haven’t made scallops in awhile and being crazy about citrus and seafood – you just provided my Oscar night entree! I’m sure tangerines would work well, too :)


classic•casual•home February 24, 2012 at 4:21 pm

Oh I am glad you feel better. We had something like that over Christmas.

This looks sooo mouthwatering and healthy. I wonder if I can get good scallops in Mammoth? Might have to wait until I am back in Newport :)


Magic of Spice February 26, 2012 at 1:23 pm

This gastrique sounds delightful…if fact the entire dish is just bright and beautiful!
Glad you are feeling better :)


Danguole March 5, 2012 at 9:58 am

Wow, gorgeous colors and great bright flavors! I love that we have citrus in the winter to brighten things up–nature works in interesting ways.


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