Won’t You Be Mine?

So, you find yourself wondering what would make the perfect gift for your Valentine. Have you tried fish? I have, and not to brag, but things have worked out well.

Oysters are nice. I'm all for them as an appetizer. Chocolates are good, too, for dessert. And there's my point: neither one is the main course. There comes a time in every relationship when you need to prove you can handle that.

Traci and I met at the Bombshelter. If you're not familiar with that particular Wellfleet institution, well, it is not located in a church basement. It wasn't until I wooed her with scallops in tarragon cream sauce that she began to take me seriously.

We've been together for thirteen years now, and I think I can safely say it doesn't matter what fish you choose. Or what sauce. What matters is that you're making dinner. Which suggests, more than mere romance, staying power—the real meal.

Tarragon Cream Sauce for Seared Scallops or Fillets

This sauce is great on pan-seared fluke or hake as well as on scallops. Make the sauce first and set it aside while you sear the fish, since that only takes a few minutes. (A how-to on searing technique is right over here.) Just put the sauce back on the heat for a minute and give it a stir right before spooning it over each serving.

More than enough for two. Will serve three or four, once you have a family.

1/2 shallot (about one tablespoon, minced)
3/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoons minced fresh tarragon leaves
a few drops of Pernod
sea salt and white pepper

Put the minced shallot in a skillet or saucepan with the white wine. Boil to reduce the wine by half. (I like to use a skillet because the flared sides allow liquids to cook down much more quickly than taller, straight sides do.)

Reduce the heat a little, add the cream, and continue simmering and reducing until the sauce begins to thicken––it should coat your spoon nicely when you stir it.

Drop in the minced tarragon and season with a few drops of Pernod, a pinch of sea salt, and a quick grind of white pepper. Spoon the sauce over scallops or fillets that have been seared golden brown.


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