Saffron Scallop Stew
55 Min

Saffron Scallop Stew

As the once plentiful stocks of cod, urchins and shrimp disappear from our oceans yet the demand for seafood continues to rise, some farmers in Maine are turning to sustainable ways of aquaculture, particularly with bivalves. Bivalves, such as scallops, oysters and mussels are a class of marine and freshwater mollusks with shells composed of two hinged parts. Along with kelp farming, bivalve farming is one of the most environmentally beneficial types of aquacultures and it’s a zero-input food source since they require no arable land, fresh water, or fertilizers to grow protein. In fact, they improve the habitat they are in by filtering the water and increasing biodiversity. There is currently a lot of research happening in this field, in the meanwhile, enjoying sustainable oysters or scallops is a responsible option.

Here is an aromatic pumpkin and scallop stew tinged with saffron and cardamom. The cardamom stews slowly in the sauce and softens towards the end for a punch of flavor with every bite. Coconut oil is an acquired flavor so feel free to substitute with olive oil or ghee. Enjoy it for a first course over the holidays over rice or pasta or as a main course for a weekend meal.  The scallops stew in the sauce way at the end, to release the juices into the sauce, be careful not to overcook. The scallops should be buttery soft and jiggly, not overcooked, and hard. 

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Cook Time

55 minutes + refrigeration time



Step 1
Marinate the scallops in a little bit of salt and saffron, saving the rest for the stew. Refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours or overnight.
Step 2
When ready to cook, take the scallops out and let them come to room temperature while you prepare the sauce. In a shallow thick-bottomed saucepan over high heat, warm the coconut oil until it is hot but not smoky. Add the whole cardamom pods, mustard seeds which will pop and sizzle, then add the kari leaves and red chiles. The cardamom and mustard seeds just need to fry in the oil for barely 5 to 6 seconds. Immediately after, add the onions and pumpkin and cook on medium to high heat for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are translucent, and the pumpkin edges have browned a little.
Step 3
Add the garlic, serrano, ginger, remaining saffron and salt and pour the coconut milk in along with one cup of water. Bring the mixture to a boil, cover, lower the heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. The pumpkin should have cooked through by now and the sauce should be thick and creamy. Cook longer if needed. At this point, the sauce can be refrigerated for up to 3 days until ready to finish the dish.
Step 4
Slide the marinated scallops in, cover and simmer for just 2 to 3 minutes. Turn the heat off and let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes. The scallops will finish cooking in that time. Serve, garnished with freshly grated coconut and herbs if you prefer.

1.5-pounds jumbo scallops

1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt, divided

Generous pinch of saffron, divided

4 tablespoons coconut oil

8 to 10 whole green cardamom pods, crushed

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

10 to 12 kari leaves

5 to 6 whole dried whole red chiles

1 cup minced onions

2 cups fresh pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 serrano pepper, minced

2 tablespoons unpeeled ginger puree

1 14-oz can coconut milk

2 tablespoons fresh coconut, for garnish

Notes & Variations

  • Glidden Point oyster farms is a good source of fresh sustainable oysters and check online or ask your local grocer for sustainable sources for scallops from Maine.
  • Scallops will add liquid to the sauce so be sure to cook it down until it is thick before adding the scallops.
  • Kari leaves are not essential to the recipe; you can also substitute with lemon grass or kaffir lime.
55 Min

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