These cold months, early in the year, are a great time for scallops. Plump and firm with a delicate sweet flavour fresh scallops are a real treat. Always buy your scallops from a good source, such as Julian, The Fishmonger on Circus Street, and ask for diver scallops. As the name suggests these scallops are hand picked by divers. The alternative is dredged scallops, which are harvested by dragging a heavy metal frame with a steel mesh along the ocean bed. Not the most sensitive way to treat our natural resources.
When you buy your scallops they should be tightly closed and have a neutral smell. A very heavy scallop might seem like a good thing; unfortunately it is just an indication that it contains a lot of sand and grit. Ask your fishmonger to open them, and to give you the surrounding skirt for the sauce. Scallops need to be cooked quickly on a fairly high heat. Place them in a hot pan with a little oil and don’t touch them for two minutes to allow a nice colour to form, then turn and cook for a further minute, adding a knob of butter at the end.
The creamy texture of scallops works wonderfully well with an earthy dish of Savoy cabbage, smoky bacon & sage. Savoy cabbage is fantastic now; the frost, that can play havoc with so many other crops, is extremely beneficial, tightening its leaves and enhancing its nutty sweetness. Cooked briefly and then tossed with a little butter, it is a million miles from the overcooked mush of children’s nightmares.
Seared Scallops with Savoy Cabbage, Smoky Bacon & Sage
- Finely slice the cabbage and blanche in boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain and place immediately in cold water.
- Cook some smoked bacon lardons in a little oil until crispy. Remove, wipe the pot, add some butter and cook some diced carrot in until soft.
- Return the bacon and the cabbage to the pot with a teaspoon of water, a splash of mustard vinaigrette and a pinch of chopped sage. Warm through.
- Heat a frying pan and add a little oil. Pan-fry the scallops on both sides until golden.
- Serve on the cabbage with a little mustard vinaigrette.