Chargrilled Scallops with Grilled Caramel Corn Sauce and Corn Relish

For the Caramel Corn Sauce

6 ears fresh market corn

1 tablespoon grapeseed oil

5 cups water

1 onion (170 grams) peeled, ¹/3 cut off in one piece, remaining cut in small dice for the Corn Relish

¼ teaspoon vanilla

1 bay leaf

½ cup (170 grams) honey

6 tablespoons (about 3 limes’ worth) fresh lime juice

¼ cup (60 grams) cider vinegar

¼ teaspoon hot paprika

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

For the Corn Relish

4 slices bacon (about 4 ounces), cut in julienne

¼ teaspoon hot paprika

1 tablespoon lime juice

1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus additional to taste

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus additional to taste

1 tablespoon lime juice

¼ cup chiffonaded (cut in fine strips) fresh basil leaves

To Finish the Dish

24 ounces large sea scallops (about 18–20 scallops)

3–4 tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil

1 teaspoon ground fennel seeds

1 teaspoon sweet paprika

Prepare the Caramel Corn sauce

Prepare and light your grill.

When the coals are ready for high-heat cooking, shuck the corn. Brush the ears with the 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil. Place the ears on the very hot grill for 1 minute, rolling them to char evenly. Cut the kernels off the cobs (you should have about 4 cups of kernels, divide them into two parts, each 2 cups). Reserve cobs.

Cut the reserved cobs in half and put them into a medium sauce pot with the ⅓ piece of onion, the vanilla, and the bay leaf. Add 1 cup of water into the sauce pot. (This is the amount of liquid you want to end up with after the reduction step.)

Add the remaining 4 cups water. Bring up to a low boil and cook until it is reduced to 1 cup of corn stock. Strain and reserve.

Place a small sauce pot over high heat. Add the honey and cook carefully, swirling the pan until the honey caramelizes to a dark golden color (but do not burn). Immediately add 2 cups of the corn kernels and stir in. Let cook for 1 minute. Add 6 tablespoons of the lime juice, the cider vinegar, ¼ teaspoon of the hot paprika, ½ teaspoon of the salt, ¼ teaspoon of the pepper, and the reserved 1 cup corn stock. Reduce to 1 cup total to make the Caramel Corn Sauce (the corn kernels should shrink considerably as the sauce reduces, but if you are using out-of-season corn, those kernels will not shrink as much). Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper and reserve. You can cover and refrigerate until needed. Reheat just before using.

Make the Corn Relish

Place a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until light gold. Remove from the pan and with a slotted spoon to paper-towel-lined plate.

Turn the heat under the pan to high. Add the diced onion and sauté for about 1 minute. Add the remaining 2 cups of corn, the remaining ¼ teaspoon of hot paprika, the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt, and the remaining ¼ teaspoon of pepper, and sauté 30 seconds. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of lime juice, the bacon pieces, and the basil, and toss to make the Corn Relish. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper and remove to a plate to cool. You can make this several hours ahead, but leave the basil out until just before serving.

Finish the Dish

Preheat a grill to very hot (when you can hold the palm of your hand over the fire for only 2 to 3 seconds before moving it away; alternatively you may use a grill pan). Place the scallops on a plate and toss them with enough oil to lightly moisten. Mix the ground fennel and sweet paprika together and season, along with salt and pepper, both sides of scallops. Brush the grill and clean the grates with an oil-soaked cloth. Place the scallops on the grill and cook for about 1½ to 2 minutes per side, depending on thickness of the scallops, until nicely marked and just warm in the center.

Divide the Corn Relish between 4 plates. Divide the scallops onto plates and serve warm with the Caramel Corn Sauce around and over scallops.