The Scallop is probably the most beautiful animal we pull from the sea. Think about it for a minute. Although undeniably tasty, the Monkfish is not winning a beauty pageant anytime soon, Squid isn’t exactly turning any heads either, and up close, Lobsters look like they’re from another planet entirely. But the Scallop is different. There’s not one bit about it that isn’t beautiful. No innards to discard (you should use that coral), no scales to scrub. Everything from its symmetrical shell right down to the texture of that meaty little hockey puck within is just perfect. Yes, there’s a lot to be said about utilising the Scallop.
But you need to be treating them right. If you’re frying them in a pan, and why wouldn’t you be, the margin for error is slim - a few seconds too long, and your delicate, tender, juicy little scallops are going to toughen up like a Glasgow bouncer.
Butter is the only way to go when you’re frying these beauties, hit with just a crack of black pepper. However, interest in world cuisine is swelling and food from all over the world is widely represented throughout the UK – not just in London – and with this comes new ways of preparing the Scallop.
Ceviche can be found in one form or another throughout South American countries, for instance, up in Mexico you’ll find a raw seafood dish prepared with lime juice known as aguachile. Whichever way you look at it, whether it’s recipes from Ecuador, Chile or Peru, raw seafood is sliced thinly, and lightly cured in the acidic juices from citrus – lemon and lime are most often used, but blood orange and grapefruit are pretty great alternatives too. Scallop lends itself remarkably well to ceviche and when you prepare them this way you don’t have to worry about overcooking them. So if you have a new line cook running the starter section, then Scallop ceviche can be a great way to break them in and escape the risk of him turning them into tough rubbery little discs.
Another reason to love Scallops, is how wonderfully they pair with the pig. Take pretty much any pork based product and serve it alongside some seared Scallops and you’ll have a dish no one dare argue with. Black pudding – yes. Bacon - absolutely. Chorizo, pork terrine, grilled jowl - all of the above!
Now tread carefully with herbs when it comes to this little mollusc. Sure, he can take them. In fact, some herbs work incredibly well. Coriander might be one of the best choices, but you’d be surprised just how well a little mint works too. Get the herbs into the butter so that it imparts fragrance from the beginning of the cooking process.
Now that coral, the orange roe that comes attached to your Scallop. I’m sure none of you are going to let this flavourful sack go to waste. Collect them together to make a Scallop parfait, or try deep-frying them in a tempura batter. Failing that, simply leave on the side of your Scallop and serve as-is. Because there’s one miraculous thing about the Scallop – every last bit of it is delicious.