WE are incredibly lucky that some of the finest varieties of shellfish can be found in British waters and scallops are a great example of this. Noted for their mild, sweet flavour and firm yet delicate texture, king scallops are widely available in quality fishmongers. Smaller ‘queen’ scallops from the Isle of Man are also a delicacy in this country.
Because of their unique texture and flavour, scallops can be paired with fairly robust flavours. They are popular in Oriental cuisine for this reason and are particularly tasty cooked with ingredients such as ginger, garlic and chilli.
I often serve them with things like bacon, black pudding, chorizo and duck because the salty and fattiness of the meat perfectly complements the soft and delicate shellfish. They also work well in fish pie; their firm and silky presence provides a great contrast with flaky fish and meaty prawns.
However, it’s also nice to serve scallops simply pan-fried with a little seasoning to really appreciate their fine flavour.
Many people assume that scallops are difficult to prepare and cook but that’s really not the case. Unlike mussels and clams, scallops are normally sold already cleaned and out of their shell so there’s virtually no preparation at all. What’s more, they take a matter of minutes to cook.
Don’t be tempted to overcook scallops though or you’ll ruin their delicate flavour and texture; they are often served rare for this reason.
This is a really tasty and impressive dish that takes very little time to prepare. You can also make the cauliflower puree in advance which makes it perfect for a quick supper or dinner party starter.
Scallops with Cauliflower Puree
Ingredients (serves 4)
1 small cauliflower
3-4 scallops per person (depending on size)
100g parmesan cheese, grated
Salt & black pepper
Cook the cauliflower in a large pan of lightly salted water until tender. Drain but keep approx. 100ml of the water in the pan (about a ladle full) to create the puree. Add the butter and blitz with a blender until smooth.
Set a large frying pan over a medium heat with a little oil. Once hot, cook the scallops for one-and-a-half minutes on one side before flipping over and cooking for one minute on the other side. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the scallops to rest in the pan for a further minute.
Meanwhile, place a generous spoonful of cauliflower puree on each dish and sit the scallops on top. Liberally sprinkle with parmesan and place under a hot grill for a minute or so until the cheese has melted. If you have a chef’s blowtorch, then use this instead.
Finish with a twist of black pepper and serve immediately.