Scallops roasted with seaweed butter
I started reading fishery regulations for this week’s recipe, but I’ll save you the details. Suffice to say we’re getting better scallops now and Rex Hunt was somehow involved.
The scallops we use are hand-dived, which is a relief. They used to be dredged, which is terrible for the environment, and which Hunt campaigned against.
The hand-dived scallops we get are often packed with an elastic band to hold the shell shut and keep everything in. Some fishmongers have live scallops on offer during the season, but sadly most scallops have been frozen first. Sometimes it’s like the old French problem – you buy a tin of snails and a pack of shells and then bring them together. It’s just ridiculous.
What makes the live scallop quite spectacular is not just the sweetness and freshness of the flavour but also the firm texture. When we clean the scallops we release the muscle and remove the lid, leaving the muscle and entrails intact. The muscle is what we know as the scallop – the white parcel in the middle of the shell. We usually then clean the entrails but leave the orange roe and scallop skirt in place. The skirt is a sweet section that spreads across the inside of the shell. When cooked it retracts and becomes firm, but it will be the sweetest part of the scallop. Often, pre-prepared scallops are trimmed of this skirt, as well as the roe. This is a shame. Prepared correctly, what are left when baked are the three textures: the roe, the skirt and the scallop muscle.
The seaweed butter we use here brings a richness and subtle umami flavour. It’s the same recipe I’ve used smothered over whole fish before serving.
When baking the scallops, we either sit them on scrunched-up foil or rock salt, which stabilises the scallop and stops any of the butter and juice being lost. In many ways, this is the best bit.
2012 Benanti Pietramarina carricante, Etna Bianco Superiore, Sicily ($110) – Leanne Altmann, wine buyer, Supernormal and Meatsmith.
- 6 live scallops
For the seaweed butter
- 3 sheets good-quality nori
- ¼ cup soft butter
- 1 tbsp light soy sauce
- To make the seaweed butter, soak the nori in cold water for 10 minutes to soften. Take the soaked nori in your hands and squeeze out any excess liquid. Using a mortar and pestle, pound the nori with the soft butter and soy sauce.
- To prepare the scallops, insert a knife through the open shell and slice the flesh away from the lid. If there is any sand in the scallop, flush it out with ice-cold water.
- Remove the lid and then, using your knife, release the flesh from the bottom of the shell. Remove the skirt and black digestive tract and you will be left with scallop meat and roe.
- Place the scallop and roe back in the shell with a tablespoon of seaweed butter. Place the lid back on and repeat for the remaining scallops.
- Preheat your oven to 200ºC. Line a roasting pan with scrunched-up aluminium foil or rock salt and balance the scallops on top. The scallops need to be secure so that as the butter melts the scallop doesn’t tip and the contents spill.
- Roast the scallops in the preheated oven for six minutes, remove the lids and serve immediately with a wedge of lemon.
This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on August 5, 2017 as "Flesh in the pan".
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