This dish is a real ‘crowd pleaser’. The hand-dived scallops we get are amazing and taste so good simply pan-fried with a little salt. It takes a bit of time to prepare the braised fennel and broad beans, but they are worth it. You may find you have more fennel condiment than you need here but it is incredibly more-ish, so it won’t be wasted, I promise!
- 12 live medium scallops, cleaned
- Olive oil, for cooking
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- For the fennel condiment
- 200ml light olive oil
- 1 fennel bulb, trimmed and finely sliced
- 1 large egg yolk
- 3 tbsp cider vinegar
- 50g Pernod
- For the braised fennel
- 1 large fennel bulb, trimmed
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- A sprig of thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- For the dressing
- 6 tbsp olive oil
- 1 fennel bulb, trimmed and finely diced
- 1 small shallot, peeled and finely diced
- 1 lime, zest and juice
- 1 tsp Pernod
- To garnish
- 4 tbsp freshly podded broad beans
- 2 tsp chopped fennel herb
- Olive oil, to drizzle
To make the fennel condiment, heat a large pan with a tight-fitting lid over a medium heat. When it’s hot, add a generous drizzle of olive oil, then the fennel. Sweat gently for 2 minutes without colouring, then barely cover with water. Put the lid on and cook until the fennel is soft, about 25 minutes, adding a little more water if needed. Remove the lid and cook until the liquor has almost totally reduced. Transfer to a blender and blend until smooth. Allow to cool.
Weigh 125g of the cooked fennel and place in a food processor with the egg yolk, cider vinegar and Pernod. Blitz to combine, then add the rest of the olive oil in a slow, steady stream while blending until fully incorporated. Season with salt to taste. Transfer to a bowl and cool, then cover and place in the fridge unless using straight away.
For the braised fennel, place the fennel bulb in a pan and add the garlic, coriander and fennel seeds, thyme, bay leaf and olive oil. Top up with water to just cover and add a pinch of salt. Bring to a simmer and cook gently until the fennel is tender, about 15 minutes. Leave to cool in the cooking liquor, then cut into quarters.
For the dressing, heat the olive oil in a pan over a low heat, add the fennel and shallot and cook gently for 10 minutes or until soft. Add the lime zest and juice and the Pernod, then take off the heat. Season with salt and leave to cool.
For the broad beans, bring a pan of salted water to the boil, add the broad beans and cook for 2 minutes. Immediately transfer the beans to a bowl of ice-cold water to cool quickly. Drain, then slip the broad beans out of their dull outer skins. Refrigerate.
Take the scallops out of the fridge 20 minutes before cooking to bring them to room temperature. Place a large non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat. When it’s hot, add a drizzle of olive oil, then the braised fennel quarters. Colour until golden on all sides, then remove and cut each fennel quarter into 3 pieces. Wipe out the pan and place it back on the heat.
Season the scallops lightly with salt. When the pan is hot, carefully lay them in the pan, placing the side of the scallop down that would have been against the flat shell. Cook for 2–3 minutes until the scallops turn golden. Flip them over and remove the pan from the heat. The scallops will finish cooking in the residual heat of the pan.
To serve, warm the dressing, add the broad beans and fennel herb and season with salt and pepper. Spoon a few tablespoons of fennel condiment onto each warmed plate. Add 3 pieces of fennel and the dressed broad beans. Place 3 scallops on each plate and spoon on 1 tablespoon of the dressing. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil.
Restaurant Nathan Outlaw, Bloomsbury Absolute, £45.