Scallops With Seaweed Butter

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
8 large fresh sea scallops
8 tablespoons ( 1/2 cup) rock salt, for serving
1/4 sheet nori, finely chopped (or snipped with scissors) to make 8 pinches, or 8 pinches thyme leaves
1/2 lime
fleur de sel
freshly ground black pepper.

Arrange 8 clean scallop shells or individual gratin dishes on baking sheet. Using pastry brush and about 2 tablespoons of butter, brush each scallop all over with butter. Set 1 scallop in each shell, and refrigerate until the butter is firm, 10 to 15 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat broiler to high.

Neatly mound 2 tablespoons rock salt, spacing them well apart, on each of four large plates; set aside. Remove scallops from refrigerator and sprinkle each with a pinch of nori. Dot with remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Broil until scallops are barely cooked through, about 3 minutes.

Transfer scallop shells to plates, nestling each into a mound of salt. Sprinkle with lime juice as desired, and season with fleur de sel and piment d’Espelette to taste. Serve immediately.

Time: 20 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

Adapted from L’Atelier de JoŽl Robuchon. The New York Times (March 28, 2007)