Peanuts burn really well. And for a really long time. Especially when they are finely ground with some bread crumbs, fresh ginger, red pepper flakes, garlic powder and melted butter, then sprinkled over scallops.
The goal was not to ignite this dish. Rather, to create a simple and speedy broiled scallop dish with Thai accents. Hence the ground peanuts, garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes.
All went well until the peanut-topped scallops went under the broiler, where they were supposed to cook for 6 minutes. But within 2 minutes, smoke was rising out of the oven. And when the oven door was opened, flames followed. And continued for 10 minutes.
Turns out peanuts, thanks to their high oil content, aren't just flammable, but extremely flammable. According to various children's science experiment sites online, peanuts actually can be lit in a similar fashion to candles.
Baked scallops suddenly seemed so much more appealing, even if not quite so speedy.
Baked scallops with spicy peanut topping
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 1/2 pounds sea scallops
1/3 cup unseasoned breadcrumbs
1/3 cup salted, roasted peanuts
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon butter, melted and cooled
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Coat the bottom of a shallow 9-inch round cake pan with olive oil. Arrange the scallops in a single layer in the pan. Set aside. In a food processor, combine the breadcrumbs, peanuts, red pepper flakes, ginger and garlic. Process until they resemble coarse sand. With the processor on, drizzle in the melted butter and pulse until combined. Use your fingers to sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture over the scallops. Bake until the scallops are cooked through and the topping is lightly browned, about 12 to 14 minutes. Serves four.