The Japanese use ponzu sauce as a dipping sauce for raw fish, but it also works very well in this recipe. Ponzu is traditionally made with Japanese lemons (yuzu), sometimes available in the United States, but limes may be substituted. Store ponzu sauce, covered, in the refrigerator for up to a year; the flavor improves with age.
FOR THE PONZU SAUCE:
- 1⁄2 cup bonito flakes
- 5 tbsp. fish stock
- 1⁄4 cup fresh lime juice
- 1⁄4 cup soy sauce
- 1 1⁄2 tsp. mirin (Japanese rice wine)
FOR THE SALAD:
- 3 tbsp. vegetable oil
- Kernels from 3 ears corn
- 6 oz. baby tatsoi or baby spinach
- 6 scallions, trimmed and sliced into thin rounds
- 1⁄4 bunch cilantro, leaves only
- 16 sea scallops
- 1 tsp. fennel seeds, toasted and ground with a mortar and pestle
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the ponzu sauce: Put bonito flakes, stock, lime juice, soy sauce, and mirin in a small saucepan; bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium and simmer for 1 minute. Remove from heat and allow to cool, then strain sauce, discarding solids, and set aside.
For the salad: Heat 1 tbsp. of the oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add corn, and saute until lightly golden, about 5 minutes, then transfer to a large bowl. Add tatsoi, scallions, and cilantro leaves to the bowl, and toss with 8 tbsp. of the reserved ponzu sauce. Divide salad among four plates.
Pat scallops dry with paper towels, then rub with remaining 2 tbsp. oil, and season with ground fennel and salt and pepper to taste. Heat the same medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add scallops, and sear (working in two batches, if necessary, to avoid crowding the skillet) until lightly browned, about 1 ½ minutes per side. Arrange scallops around salad, 4 per plate, then drizzle salad with remaining ponzu sauce.