THIS WEEK I am going to sing my praises about one of the UK’s finest ingredients harvested from the ocean. While English and Scottish oysters are ranked up there with the best in the world and back in Oz we hold our own with oysters, crayfish and fresh fish – here in London, I can never pass up hand dived scallops on a menu or freshly available at my local fishmongers.
Fresh hand dived scallops from the pristine waters off the coastline of Scotland are considered the best in the world. So much so, suppliers to our restaurants have to divide their catch when delivering so no one will miss out.
This makes for a lucrative industry but one not without its hazards. Teams of divers will spend hours collecting scallops in freezing waters and traitorous conditions in near blackout conditions on the sea bed.
Hand dived scallops are more environmentally friendly than the dredging method that will destroy the precious ocean floor. The effects of scallop dredging means the sea floor can take years to repair – so when buying scallops make sure they are “hand dived scallops”.
The distinctive fan shaped shell is home to the succulent flesh/meat of the scallop. The firm white meat is easily removed from the shells and in our kitchen alone, we will open up to 300 scallops per week.
Most scallops are sold already removed from their shells. However scallops purchased in their shells are the best for guaranteed freshness and most likely found in a good fishmongers or farmers market!
Choose scallops that have a creamy white appearance and smell of the sea. If you are feeling confident, you can clean and open the scallops at home. I would suggest having the fishmonger do this for you as opening scallops can be quite dangerous and not worth the tears and cut fingers.
Ask to keep the shell, as we are going to serve the scallop in its shell for this week’s recipe.
You can also keep the orange roe (soft scallop eggs), which makes a fantastic addition to sauces when serving fish or you can even pan fry the roe gently and serve with the scallops. It may be an acquired taste but is well worth it.
Once you have the scallops at home give them a quick rinse in cold, cold water to remove any sand and shell. Rinse and scrub the shell with a course scourer until clean. Set aside for serving.
Now we are ready to prepare this week’s feature recipe. Lets get started and enjoy one of the best ingredients this great ocean has to offer. Enjoy and happy cooking!
Baked hand dived scallops with ginger and chili
What you need:
½ dozen hand dived scallops
1 thumb size knob of fresh ginger finely grated
100ml sesame oil
2 tbls of soy sauce
1 tsp of fish sauce
¼ bunch of spring onions finely chopped
1 small chili finely chopped
¼ bunch of fresh coriander leaves
½ teaspoon of white sugar
What to do:
A real easy no fuse recipe this week.
Turn the oven up to 200 degrees.
Take a mixing bowl and combine all the herbs and spices.
Mix well until all the ingredients and blended together.
Place the white scallop meat back into their shell and spoon over the mixture. About a table spoon each.
Place the scallops onto a baking try. Place the tray in the oven.
Cook for about 5 mins. They won’t take long and will continue to cook once out of the oven. Scallops are best eaten on the rare side – otherwise they become tough and tasteless.
It’s that simple, so open a bottle of white and enjoy!