Grilled Scallops with Miso-Corn Salad
My adoration of sea scallops goes back as far as some of the first memories I have at my parents’ dinner table. In the ’70s and ’80s, my mother, a great home cook in her own right, used to make them in a creamy white wine sauce for dinner parties, calling them by their fancy French name (coquilles St. Jacques) and serving them in elaborate scallop shell plates that only came out of the cupboard for this one very special dish. They were, in my eyes, the height of sophistication.When I moved to New York as a young culinary-school student, I learned just how easy they were to cook and how delicious they could be simply seasoned with salt and pepper and seared over high heat in clarified butter. I would save up to buy half a pound at my local fishmonger and practice making them late at night for my roommate, tossing the barely cooked mollusks in angel hair pasta with burst cherry tomatoes and lots of fresh garlic, and setting off the fire alarm in our tiny kitchen in the process.What’s not to love about scallops? It’s hard to find fault in their naturally beautiful shape, pillowy texture, and distinctly sweet, mild flavor. They take well to an infinite array of preparations and cooking techniques, adapt to almost any cuisine, and (as any Top Chef contestant will tell you) can be cooked incredibly quickly or served raw, making them the ultimate blank canvas for everything from black truffles to black bean sauce, citrus to sambal. In summer, I cook them on the grill until just kissed by the flames and pile them on top of warmed veggies with a bright dressing. This version, a favorite for quick and easy backyard dinners, incorporates miso, ginger, and toasted sesame, adding a savory dimension to the salad and a rich contrast to the corn and scallops’ inherent sweetness.To achieve the best sear on your scallops, set them uncovered on a paper towel in the refrigerator for a few hours before grilling.