This recipe is based on a classic dish in Lebanese cuisine called tagen. Tagen is a fish stew that is composed of fish with caramelized onions bathing in a tahini and lemon sauce.
I found some frozen artichoke bottoms at the middle-eastern grocer imported from Egypt. Artichoke bottoms are very popular in the near-east and are usually covered with minced lamb and pine nuts.
I made the tagen but used scallops instead of the traditional seabass (or other mediterranean fish); and whereas the traditional tagen is served in a big platter, I used the artichoke bottoms to hold each individual scallop.
- 1 bag of artichoke bottoms or 1 can
- 1 pound of either bay or sea scallops
- 4 ounces of tahini
- 4 ounces of water
- 3 ounces of fresh lemon juice (one large lemon)
- 1 large onion
- a teaspoon or more of turmeric (optional), some black pepper and salt to taste
- olive oil as needed
- chopped parsley as a garnish
- Cook the artichoke bottoms by boiling them or steaming them; if using canned ones, boil them a few minutes as well. Set aside.
- Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet and fry the onion cut in rings until it turns golden-brown. Remove from the skillet with a slotted spoon and place the onion rings evenly all over the artichoke bottoms in an oven-proof plate (like a pie plate for instance).
- Sprinkle the scallops with turmeric and salt and black pepper. Heat the remaining oil in the skillet for a couple of minutes and when hot drop the scallops and sear on both sides. Remove and set aside.
- Make the tahini sauce: Juice the lemon; pour the tahini in a bowl, add the lemon and stir; the tahini will curdle then get thick; gradually add the water, stirring constantly until the sauce is smooth and very liquid. Pour the sauce on top of the artichoke bottoms and place in a preheated oven at 375F for about 20 minutes.
- Place the scallops in the artichoke bottoms the last 5 minutes of baking (or less, depending on how much you cooked them previously).
- Bake until the sauce has set or looks ready, about 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the quantities used. Serve either at room temperature or warm over rice, garnished with chopped parsley.
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