Hamptons Epicure: Mark Strausman’s Recipe for Sea Scallops, Scampi-Style

Cover of "The Fred’s at Barney’s New York Cookbook" and portrait of chef Mark Strausman
“The Fred’s at Barney’s New York Cookbook” by Mark Strausman (pictured at right) with Susan Littlefield, Photos: Copyright © 2018 by Mark Strausman. Reprinted with permission of Grand Central Life & Style

Many credit Chef Mark Strausman’s ’80s summer restaurant Sapore di Mare in Wainscott as being “the first Hamptons pop-up.” That credit probably belongs to restauranteur Henry Soulé’s takeover of East Hampton’s The Hedges for the summer of 1954. But there’s no question that Strausman’s pioneering farm-to-table approach at Sapore di Mare left a lasting mark.

Strausman has just come out with a tome titled The Fred’s at Barney’s New York Cookbook, about his longtime stint as the executive chef for iconic department store Barney’s. I thought this recipe especially apt for Hamptons cooks.

Mark Strausman's Sea Scallops Scampi
Sea Scallops Scampi, Courtesy Mark Strausman

Sea Scallops, Scampi-Style with Mashed Potatoes
Serves 2

Working day to day in the business corridors of New York, it’s easy to forget that it’s a coastal city and port. But where I grew up in Queens, awareness of water was more constant, especially in summer when we spent a lot of time at the beach, always looking forward to a seafood dinner at the end of the long, hot day. Back then, it was de rigueur for a good seafood restaurant to have a cheesy nautical theme.

My mother liked to splurge on lobster, and shrimp scampi was my standing order; my Dad, though, loved scallops. The cheesy nautical décor might be a thing of the past, but some of the great recipes are still with us, and scampi is one of them. When I worked in the Hamptons, on the East End of Long Island, I was inspired to cook the excellent local scallops scampi-style, and then added my own comfort food twist by serving them with mashed potatoes so all that delicious sauce didn’t go to waste.

Prepare the mashed potatoes and keep them warm before starting the scallops. If you cover the potatoes they should stay warm for 20 to 30 minutes, much longer than it will take to cook the scallops. If needed, reheat them over low heat while you’re cooking the scallops.

16 large sea scallops
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup all-purpose flour for dredging
1 whole clove garlic, peeled and smashed
2 tablespoons clarified butter
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
Mashed Potatoes (see separate recipe below)

Sprinkle the scallops with salt and pepper. Place the flour in a shallow bowl and, working in batches, dredge the scallops, shaking off any excess flour. Add more flour if needed to dredge them all.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the smashed garlic clove and clarified butter. When the butter is hot, add about half the dredged scallops and sauté them, turning once, until golden brown on both sides, about 4 to 6 minutes total. As they cook, remove and set aside on a plate, and add more scallops until they’re all cooked. Turn off the burner and use paper towels to wipe any remaining butter and garlic cloves from the pan.

To the same pan, add the unsalted butter and minced garlic and sauté over medium-high heat for 1 minute. Briefly remove the pan from the burner, and tilt it away from you as you pour in the wine. Place the pan back on the heat and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes. Return the scallops to the pan, add the parsley and chives, and mix together until the scallops are covered in sauce. Make sure the mashed potatoes are warm before plating the scallops.

Place a dollop of mashed potatoes in the center of each serving plate. Divide the scallops between the two plates, and place them in a ring around the potatoes. Drizzle with remaining sauce and serve.

Mashed Potatoes
Serves 4

2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
1 teaspoon kosher salt (or more as needed)
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

Fill a large stainless-steel mixing bowl with ice water and set it by your cutting board. Peel and quarter the potatoes and place them in the ice water as you work so they don’t discolor.

Fill a large pot with water and add the salt. Remove the potatoes from their ice bath, drain, and place them in the pot. Boil until they are soft, then drain off the cooking water, leaving the potatoes in the pot. While they’re still very hot, use a potato masher to mash them well, so there are no lumps.

In a small saucepan, heat the milk and butter until the butter is melted. Add to the warm potatoes, warm and mix together, then add the Parmesan. Stir together over low heat until the cheese melts. Taste and add more salt as needed.

Excerpted from the book The Fred’s at Barney’s New York Cookbook by Mark Strausman with Susan Littlefield. Copyright © 2018 by Mark Strausman. Reprinted with permission of Grand Central Life & Style. All rights reserved.

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