September 1997

Topsham, Devon 16 September 1997 Walking back from the Post Office, a blackboard outside the Galley Seafood Restaurant beckoned me in: "Live diver's scallops 6 dozen". David, the chef and owner, had been out diving off of Exmouth and had fetched a batch of large kings from the seabed by hand.
Diver's scallops are infinitely finer than those dragged up by trawlers as they don't suffer the damage and trauma which the latter inevitably do when fished commercially with chains. Indeed, we consider such live scallops, especially those from our own Devon coast, to be just about the finest shellfish in the world.
So, just another Monday night, but the chance for a sensational weekday meal all the same: the scallops quickly seared on the griddle to caramelize the surface but still left slightly undercooked inside and so delectably sweet, and served on a bed of mâche and cilantro together with roasted tomatoes and boiled new potatoes.


Seared Scallops with Mâche and Cilantro Salad

A dozen live scallops

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Handful of mâche (or rucola)

Handful of cilantro (coriander), coarsely chopped

Walnut oil vinaigrette

A few drops of sherry vinegar

Take the scallops out of their shells and clean and wash. Separate the coral from the body flesh, and slice the scallops horizontally in two. Marinade in a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil.

Prepare the salad, dress and place on plates.

Heat a griddle to hot, oil lightly, then lay the scallops on it in a single layer. As soon as all the scallops have been laid on the griddle, turn the first ones immediately. Once all have been turned, the first scallops should be seared on the outside and fully cooked, no more than two minutes or so in all. Cook the coral separately on the griddle for no more than about 20-30 seconds.

Pile the scallops and their coral on the bed of dressed mâche and cilantro, dribble with a bit of sherry vinegar, and serve with roasted tomatoes and boiled new potatoes on the side.

Wine Suggestion: The sweet, seared flavour of the scallops is brought out marvellously when accompanied by a traditional oaked Rioja. We enjoyed this dish with a sensational bottle of Marques de Murrieta Ygay Reserva 1991, the vibrant lemony flavours of the Viura grape emerging from the deeper, caramelly wood tones of old oak.


copyright © Marc & Kim Millon 2000

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