Spicy, Tunisian-Style Scallops

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Photo by adactio/Flickr CC


This recipe comes from Onsa and Majid Mahjoub, whose harissa, couscous, and other great foods ever more of you are getting to know. It's very easy and very good! I learned the basics of it back when I was in Tunisia last winter. Onsa made it in her home kitchen at that time, using chicken instead of the seafood this version calls for. When the Mahjoubs made their way to Ann Arbor in the spring; Onsa turned a twist on what we tasted in Tunis, and made a the dish with scallops; turns out they're one of her favorite foods.

It does rely on a lot of the Mahjoubs' products--while one can of course sub out for other producer's products, theirs are so exceptionally good that I think the quality of the dish is likely to drop off pretty dramatically. You can adjust the hot harissa levels to meet your personal taste. Whatever you do use good scallops--not surprisingly they cost a fair bit more but they taste a whole big lot better!

Serves two for dinner

    • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (I've been using the Mahjoub's oil, of course)
    • 3 scallions, sliced
    • 2 teaspoons Mahjoub traditional harissa
    • 1 teaspoon Mahjoub sweet pepper harissa
    • 1 teaspoon Mahjoub sun-dried garlic
    • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
    • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground tellicherry black pepper, plus more to taste
    • ½ cup tomato puree (you can make your own easily right now with all the good tomatoes at hand--grating the tomatoes on a box grater is simple, low tech and works well)
    • 2 cups water
    • 1 pound of dry pack sea scallops
    • 1 Mahjoub pickled lemon, coarsely chopped
    • 1 tablespoon sun dried Mahjoub capers
    • 10 to 12 small green olives, pitted and halved
    • 3 Mahjoub sundries tomato slices, cut into strips
    • sea salt to taste

Heat the olive oil in a deep 8- to 9-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the scallions, the two types of harissa, sun-dried garlic, turmeric, and black pepper. Add 1/4 cup of the water and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, and cook, stirring occasionally, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the tomato puree. Return the skillet to the heat, and stir in the remaining water. Cover and simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes, until slightly reduced. Add the scallops, lemon, capers, olives, and tomato. Cook until the scallops are heated through, another 4 minutes or so.

Serve in warm bowls with a nice drizzle of extra virgin olive oil on top and more sundries harissa on the side. I've served it on its own, with couscous on the side, and also put leftovers on top of pasta.

Really it's a great dish for the season with all those good tomatoes out there. If you like scallops and a bit of spice give it a try.

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Ari Weinzweig is co-founder of Zingerman's Community of Businesses, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He is also the author of Zingerman's Guide to Good Eating. More

After graduating from University of Michigan with a degree in Russian history, Ari Weinzweig went to work washing dishes in a local restaurant and soon discovered that he loved the food business. Along with his partner Paul Saginaw, Ari started Zingerman's Delicatessen in 1982 with a $20,000 bank loan, a staff of two, a small selection of great-tasting specialty foods, and a relatively short sandwich menu. Today, Zingerman's is a community of businesses that employs over 500 people and includes a bakery, creamery, sit-down restaurant, training company, coffee roaster, and mail order service. Ari is the author of the best-selling Zingerman's Guide to Good Eating and the forthcoming Zingerman's Guide to Better Bacon.
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