Sunday, 13 May 2007

Flabby Things of Joy

Scallops are a bizarre creature and not everybody's favourite choice of seafood. On the current series of Great British Menu on BBC2, Jeremy Lee described them as, 'big horrible flabby things'. Very funny and sometimes very true. I find that the bigger they are, the less attractive in taste and texture they become. But I still love them.

The key to a good eating experience with scallops is to eat them as fresh as possible, as well as minimum cooking time in the pan. Seared in a scalding hot pan for 1 minute on both sides is all you need. Any more, the texture can become rubbery and the natural sweetness disappears. If anybody reading this hates the things, then try one cooked properly and see if your view changes.

I came home last weekend with a dozen or so King scallops from Ponteland Farmer's Market. They were just the right size, around the diameter of a 50 pence piece with a beautiful glowing orange coral. Some people tend to not eat the coral but I like it as it gives a completely different taste and texture to the white flesh.

With a handful of new season asparagus, I came up with a simple recipe that gave us a lovely little Saturday night treat. A simple potato cake, pan fried in butter, made for the perfect bed for the asparagus and scallops. A simple deglaze of the scallop pan with Vermouth and lemon juice, finished off with a knob of butter and some chopped herbs, completed events perfectly.

Scallops and Asparagus on Potato Cake with Lemon, Vermouth and Herb Sauce
Serves 2

6 scallops
12 Asparagus stalks, washed and trimmed
2 large floury potatoes such as Maris Piper or King George, peeled and chopped
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
2 tbs Vermouth
Olive Oil
Parsley and chives finely chopped
Salt and Pepper

1 - Put the potatoes into a pan of cold water and bring to the boil. Cook until soft, then drain thoroughly and mash in the pan until dry and smooth. Season and add a knob of butter. Shape into circles using a biscuit cutter or chef's ring then fry with a little olive oil and butter until crispy.
2 - While the potato cakes are cooking, cook the asparagus in boiling water for 2-3 minutes. Drain and keep warm.
3 - Heat a frying pan and a little olive oil. Season the scallops then sear on both sides for 1 minute each side. Remove and keep warm.
4 - Pour the Vermouth, lemon juice and zest into the scallop pan and reduce, it won't take a minute. Add the herbs and a knob of butter then taste for seasoning.
5 - Arrange the potato cake on a plate with the asparagus and scallops on top, then drizzle the sauce over and around.


Great Big Veg Challenge said...

Scallops are the best thing ever. Unfortunately I once made the mistake of letting my son freddie try one and he agreed. We can't allow an eight year old to have expensive tastes...

I have made them with samphire which was available from a fishmongers in Cornwall for very little money. Does Samphire grow on the coast near you?

Hannah said...

Oh these look delicous! I love scallops too!