It seemed out of the blue when I got a call from a friend who works in a bar to inform me that the ten pounds of scallops I had ordered arrived. ‘Right,’ I thought, only vaguely remembering the agreement that I made with a local fisherman. Now, true to his word, he had returned to the scene of hazy evening with twenty pounds of scallops to be divided between me and my barkeep friend. And of course, he arrived around midnight. Did I mention that they were only $7 a pound?
They were Atlantic sea scallops harvested close to Campobello Island and, by the time that I got them, mere hours out of the sea. Fresh scallops have a delightful and sweet smell, and if they smell too much, it can be a sign that they are not fresh or have been frozen.
I started by eating them exactly as they were: raw. This is only advisable with the freshest seafood, but I felt that this was as fresh as it gets. And they were amazing. The texture was incredibly smooth with a delicious buttery taste. Tiffany and I have eaten raw scallops before at a Japanese restaurant in Halifax, and these were equal if not better. This was washed down with some dry Riesling-Gewürztraminer.
Next, I prepared some ceviche using Tiffany and Mike Wood’s recipe, although leaving out the cilantro. They required only about two hours of “cooking time” in the lime juice and did not lose any of the amazing texture. These were downed with generous portions of rosé, intsead of the customary margarita.
Onward, some scallops were covered in green curry paste and then fried in olive oil and butter. Layering the fats allows for a buttery taste, while the olive oil can withstand the higher heat needed for this. After two or three minutes of cooking, they are done.
Sometime during these preparations, I watched an episode of “The French Chef” with Julia Child that was all about scallops. She laments, as I do, that so much of the scallop is thrown away in this part of the world. Only the adductor muscle that keeps the two sides of the scallops shell together is kept and the roe (some call it the coral or tongue) is thrown away. I had asked my fisherman friend to keep some of the scallops whole in shells for me, but I will forgive him a lapse in memory.
What’s next? There are still eight pounds of scallops left. Certainly, I will try some of the recipes that Ms. Child made, experimenting with variations of coquilles St-Jacques gratinées. Suggestions from the gallery? Did I mention that I also have two pounds of fresh mussels in the fridge?