Doing what we can to support our local producers has never been more convenient or tasted so good! Each week a local shellfish company brings us scallops and crabs, and there are lobsters to be had as well. My scallop shucking skills are greatly improved since Lockdown began and I’m getting faster at picking the crabs too. Doubtless not so very long ago every Orcadian would have been proficient at preparing both of these shellfish and, not having taken up jogging or dedicating an hour a day to YouTube-led exercising, my newly acquired Lockdown skill is a greater creativity with scallops. Here’s some of our Friday night suppers, the shells of which are providing edging for our vegetable beds.
Our first scallops were pan-fried and served with spring greens and orange – I was clearing the polytunnel of last season’s veg at the time. I forgot to photograph that one but the greens and orange recipe is in my recipe blog. The next week, also as a result of clearing the polytunnel, I had made a parsley pesto, which we had on linguini with a few tomatoes pan-fried with the scallops.
Then it was ‘What shall I do with a sweet potato and scallops?’. M&S and some other big supermarkets started offering ‘tagliatelle’ and ‘spaghetti’ made out of sweet potato, butternut and courgettes when the spiralising craze was at its height. I shredded the sweet potato in the food processor and half simmered/half steamed it with some frozen broad beans and a splash of oil. That worked very well – it tasted fab even if it looks a bit splodgy!
An avocado coming to perfect condition on scallop delivery day prompted a Bash – not a full guacamole, just the avo, lime juice and salt – with chard from the polytunnel and tomatoes. That was really simple and so delicious.
One of my favourite ways of cooking mussels is with apple and cider so I wondered how that would work with scallops? The answer is very well! I sautéed a shallot with a bay leaf then added some diced eating apple. Once softened they came out of the pan and the scallops went in. After turning the scallops the veg went back into the pan. I plated the scallops then added a good splash of cider to the veg, quickly bubbled it up then seasoned it and spooned over the scallops. A neighbour had picked up some samphire in Tesco’s that day and mash completed the feast. I think the rest of the cider was shared between us or went to the washer-up!
Sometimes even a cookery writer doesn’t want to do anything but the most straightforward cooking. Having some Broad bean tabouleh over from making it for Dish of the Day I simply cooked the scallops and added 2 chopped oranges to the pan once I had turned the scallops. Oranges go so well with them.
My penultimate recipe to date was a butter fest! With UK asparagus in season and a bunch or two in the fridge it just had to be scallops, asparagus and a butter sauce made with the Orkney Craft Vinegar’s Honey & Meadowsweet. This was based on a recipe cooked by Sam from OCV when a food writing friend, a vinegar expert, was visiting. I poached the asparagus, and pan-fried the scallops in the usual way – really hot pan, a splash of oil and a knob of butter then, biggest scallops into the pan first, and about 1.5 minutes on the first side and no more than a minute on the second side. I don’t like my scallops ‘rare’ but care needs to be taken not to overcook them. Once the scallops were turned for the second side I added a really big splash of vinegar, about 50ml, and then about 75g of Orkney butter in small cubes. Just let the butter melt slowly into the vinegar and make a thickened sauce, adding a little salt and pepper to taste. It was early summer eating at its best.
My Gingered chilli scallops are on my Dish of the Day food blog. I do hope that these ideas feed your imagination if, like us, you have local scallops and want to get creative.