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 and 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 the freshness of scallops yourself pretty easily. Look for plump and juicy-looking scallops, as opposed to ones that 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 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 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.
The most important point to know when cooking this seafood is that they do not take very long at all to cook and that overcooking them to any extent will spoil them beyond repair. Have you ever put a pencil eraser in your mouth and chewed on it? No? To the best of my recollections, nor have I—but I have put an overcooked scallop in my mouth and imagine the sensations would be fairly similar. The difference between scallops cooked to perfection and ones that are overcooked can be seconds, not minutes, so always bear this in mind when cooking these or any other type of shellfish in order to enjoy them to the fullest.
Milk-Poached Scallops on Toast
This is about the most foolproof way of cooking this delectable dish. 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.
- 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 seafood 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 liqueur with a slotted spoon and arrange on the toast.
- Season with salt, white pepper, and a few freshly-chopped dill leaves.
- Serve immediately.
Scallops Seared in Bacon Fat With Bruschetta
Scallops and bacon are a fairly popular combination, and this recipe involves not only serving them together but actually calls for searing the shellfish 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.
- 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 into 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 that 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 harbor 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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