How to Cook Scallops and Recipes
Selecting and Buying Scallops
Scallops are one of the sweetest and tastiest of all shellfish. Like all types of fish and seafood, however, it is important to buy scallops as fresh as possible, in pristine condition. A big part of this factor will be taken care of by ensuring that you buy them from a reputable source but you can also check very easily for yourself the freshness of scallops. Look for plump and juicy looking scallops, as opposed to ones which appear in any way collapsed, or dried out. Smell them and know that they should smell slightly salty, of the sea, and not of fish past its best. Do not ignore this vitally important factor of enjoying scallops at their best, for safety as well as culinary reasons.
Note: The orange part of the scallop - the coral - is left intact in the recipes on this page. It is unfortunate that many people discard the coral of scallops in the mistaken assumption that it is inedible. Although it is not as tasty as the main, fleshy muscle of the scallop, it is in fact perfectly edible. Eating or discarding is entirely a matter of personal choice.
Fish and seafood is incredibly diverse - not only in taste but in cooking requirements. It is also so delicate that, unlike with certain meats and vegetables, improper cooking can not be covered up or repaired. This fabulous book gives a wealth of information on how to cook different types of fish and seafood and could prove to be an invaluable addition to any serious cook's library.
The most important point to know when cooking scallops is that they do not take very long at all to cook and that over cooking them to any extent will spoil them beyond repair. Have you ever put a pencil eraser in your mouth and chewed upon it? No? To the best of my recollections, nor have I - but I have put an over cooked scallop in my mouth and imagine the sensations would be fairly similar. The difference between scallops cooked to perfection and scallops over cooked and wasted can be seconds, not minutes, so always bear this in mind when cooking scallops, or any other type of shellfish, in order to enjoy them to the full.
Milk Poached Scallops on Toast
This is about the most foolproof way of cooking scallops. That is simply because there is no real judgement involved as to when the scallops are cooked to perfection, other than watching for the milk beginning to simmer.
Ingredients per Serving
3 king scallops
1 slice of bread
3 slices of tomato
3 slices of cucumber
Milk as required
Pinch of freshly chopped dill leaves
Salt and white pepper
Place the scallops in the bottom of a small saucepan. Pour in just enough cold milk to cover the scallops. Put the saucepan on a moderate to high heat. As soon as the milk reaches a simmer, the scallops are cooked and ready to serve.
Make a slice of toast and use a large drinking vessel or other implement to cut a circle from it. Place the circle of toast on the plate, along with the sliced tomato and cucumber. Remove the scallops from the poaching liquer with a slotted spoon and arrange on the toast. Season with salt, white pepper and a little freshly chopped dill leaves. Serve immediately.
Scallops Seared in Bacon Fat with Bruschetta
Scallops and bacon is a fairly popular combination and this recipe involves not only serving them together but actually searing the scallops in the bacon fat. Note that this is British style bacon, taken from the back of the pig, as opposed to the underside or belly. That is why it may look a little unusual to many but any type of bacon works equally well in the recipe.
Ingredients per Serving
2 large sea scallops
2 rashers of bacon
2 slices of bread stick
1 clove of garlic
½ medium tomato
2” piece of cucumber
Extra virgin olive oil
White and black pepper
Prepare the salad before you start cooking, as the cooking in this recipe is quick and needs your full attention. Halve the cucumber lengthwise and deseed with a teaspoon. Deseed the tomato in a similar fashion. Dice, mix together and season with salt and black pepper. Plate as shown above.
The cooking of the bacon in this recipe will serve a dual purpose. As well as the obvious, it provides the fat in which the scallops will be seared. Begin, therefore, by laying the bacon slices in a cold, non-stick frying pan. Cold because we want no other fat or grease. Put the heat on to low and the fat will start to melt as the bacon cooks, at which point the heat can be gently increased. Allow for a couple of minutes each side then remove the bacon to a heated plate.
To make the bruschetta, begin by toasting the bread on both sides under an overhead grill. Peel the garlic clove and crush it slightly, under the blade of a large knife. Rub the garlic clove over the hot toast, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
When the bread is under the grill, season the scallops lightly with white pepper. No salt is required, as this will be obtained from the bacon. Bring the pan with the bacon fat up to a very high heat and lay the scallops in with cooking tongs. Cook for one minute only each side.
Chop the bacon and plate alongside the salad. When the scallops are ready, lay them atop the bacon. Plate the bruschetta and serve immediately.
Can You Eat Raw Scallops?
Hmmm... It would actually be unwise to treat this question as one which has a simple yes or no answer. In theory, yes, absolutely you can - and very delicious they are, too. It is imperative, however, that before you even contemplate doing so, you take at least a couple of factors in to account.
- Do you know for sure how fresh the scallops are?
- Do you know the quality of the water from which the scallops were taken?
Fish and particularly shellfish holds a capacity for extreme types of food poisoning which can have more than serious consequences. It would never be recommended, therefore, that you buy scallops from the supermarket, or any other type of store, and proceed to eat them raw. If you are in the very fortunate position of living near - or visiting - a port or harbour where fresh scallops can be obtained from a trustworthy source, however, you may wish to give this a try. In such an instance, you may find discarding the coral to be the best option and eating only the main muscle of the scallop.
Always be guided by local recommendations in this respect, ideally from local scallop divers or fish merchants.
How Do You Like to Eat Scallops?
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