Curried Scallops on Pumpkin Polenta Cakes
- SERVINGS: MAKES ABOUT 32
- 1/2 cup canned unsweetened pumpkin puree
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1/2 tablespoon honey
- 1/2 cup polenta (not instant)
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil, plus more for frying
- 1/2 tablespoon curry powder
- 16 medium sea scallops
- Cilantro leaves, for garnish
- In a medium saucepan, combine the pumpkin with the water and bring to a boil. Add the cream, butter, honey and a generous pinch of salt. Add the polenta in a thin stream, whisking constantly. Cook over moderate heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until thickened and tender, about 20 minutes. Scrape the polenta into a 9-inch-square pan and refrigerate until firm.
- In a small saucepan, heat the 1/4 cup of vegetable oil with the curry powder. Pour the curry oil into a small bowl and let cool. Spoon off the yellow oil and discard the curry powder.
- Run a knife around the sides of the pan and unmold the polenta. Cut it into 1 1/2 -inch squares; you should have about 32. Heat 1/2 inch of vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet until shimmering. Fry the polenta cakes in batches, turning once, until deep golden and crisp, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a rack set over a baking sheet to drain.
- In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the curry oil until shimmering. Season the scallops with salt. Add 8 scallops to the skillet and cook over high heat until browned, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining scallops and curry oil. Let the scallops cool, then cut them in half crosswise.
- Arrange the scallops on the polenta, cut side down, garnish with cilantro and drizzle very lightly with the remaining curry oil. Serve immediately.
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