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Fresh Scallops Tonight

OK. A favor done is about to be repaid with a buncha "in shell" scallops". I intend to start the meal with raw slices, splashed with lime juice, and roe from those that have them. I'm just wonderin' what you guys'd do with a few dozen uber fresh scallops. I need no advice about cleanin' 'em, and I should note that I will deep fry a couple for the final plate. I know about on the other, recent scallop threads, but these are a bit different than defrosting the protein you can get at Costco. Anyone got some kick a*s ideas of what might push the boundaries with these beauties? Any funky additions of flavor? Raw ginger slices? Wasabi? Challenge me? I've got a coupla habaneros around, though the Ghost Peppers are gone . . . .

Should I just stick with raw/ceviche preps 'til I give in to my inner "fry fanatic"?

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  1. fresh scallops like you have are things of beauty. i dislike gussying them up and masking their briny perfection. a quick sear on each side, a squirt of citrus and some togarashi pepper is plenty for me.

    although you seem to want heat with them? make a flavored butter and drizzle that over once cooked.

    they also pair well with sweeter starchy veggies like puree of celery root or parsnip.

    4 Replies
    1. re: hotoynoodle

      Well, I shoulda noted that we decided that dinner will be nuthin' but scallops. cooked three or four ways (Yeah, it's indulgent, and I know I should freeze some of e'm, but I'ma 'hound). Two plates are locked in - raw with roe to start and a final dish consisting of a deep fried mollusk or two. It's the in between courses for which I'm really looking for ideas (by the way, there are only two of us, but since the second is my wife, I got no problems with excess prep and/or clean up).

      1. re: MGZ

        gah! why would you freeze them?


        1. re: hotoynoodle

          Only reason I might have to freeze is that it's possible I'm looking at eight to twelve dozen, in shell, scallops, and the two of us, who are really good eaters, can't polish of all of 'em.* I'll give a neighbor a dozen or two, but otherwise?

          *I'm willing to clean all of 'em and have a "tried and true" freezing technique to that they will last to be an app for a dinner party on Saturday.

      2. re: hotoynoodle

        Yes, this! A scallop seared in a screaming hot pan is a thing of beauty!

      3. This is the way I was taught, many years ago...

        Salt and fresh pepper the dry scallops on a plate.
        I get my cast iron pan very hot and us a low smoking oil (I use grapeseed) to sear them.
        Once they're seared on both sides i add butter....
        You can add and infuse anything you want at this point ; herbs, ginger, your habaneros, garlic, etc.
        The butter will being to turn brown, you tip the pan and baste.
        The flavors will infuse the scallops.

        1. Quick sear would be my choice, with perhaps a couple of dips or sauces that would complement them well?

          You don't want to overpower the super-fresh flavor of these babies, so I agree with hotoy about a flavored (browned) butter, or a nice pea puree with mint as a sauce to sit on.

          You could always sprinkle some dried 'shrooms on the finished product :-D

          8 Replies
          1. re: linguafood

            So, if I do a simple sear for course two, I'm (all past references or kiddin' aside) likin' the idea of some kinda scallop and mushrooms in a cream sauce for course three. Sure wish I could get my hands on some morels or chanterelles in town . . . . Ideas?

            Like I said, this is a pure indulgence feast. Oh, and I should note I have, relatively cheap, access to some good veal and lobsters as well. Whatta you think about my makin' some fresh pasta slices for course two or three?

            1. re: MGZ

              I think (and kidding aside for a moment as well) a dusting of porcini powder or such would be really delish. Adding a bit more umami. Or on a bed of mushroom duxelles.

              1. re: linguafood

                I do have some dried porcinis . . . .

                Note: I edited the previous post to inquire about fresh pasta. Whatta 'bout that with some cream and your porcini dust idea?

                1. re: MGZ

                  What time is dinner?

                  (sounds great, but go easy on the cream)

              2. re: MGZ

                i really dislike cream on this sort of thing. it overpowers the seafood and deadens the palate. especially if you are having fried food after?

                how about butter-poaching some lobster and using that, mixed with some sauteed shrooms, under the scallops?

                1. re: hotoynoodle

                  Well played. Man, I love askin' you guys for ideas!

                2. re: MGZ

                  A saffron cream sauce with seared scallops is lovely.

              3. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a hot skillet
                Pat the scallops dry and season with S & P
                Add them to the skillet
                Add more butter and a sprig of fresh thyme
                Baste scallops continuously for about 2 minutes.
                Turn them for another 30 seconds or so if they're not cooked through.
                Serve on a bed of pan roasted haricots verts dressed with a mild sherry vinaigrette.

                1. agree with the above - my favorite pairings for scallops are wild mushrooms and pea puree (together or separately). nigella lawson has some good recipes for pea puree.

                  for cooking: i usually pat them dry, s&p at the last minute, sautee in a HOT skillet in butter (it becomes browned butter by the end). also if you put the dry scallops uncovered on a plate in the fridge for about 30 minute before cooking, they will air dry a bit and you'll get a better crust.

                  in fact last night we had scallops prepared just this way, and served them alongside pasta with sauteed wild mushrooms. We added the scallop juices to the pasta sauce and all was good in the world!

                  1. Course 1: scallops marinated in coconut milk, coconut vinegar, red onions, ginger, habanero, and calamondin juice, served on the half shell

                    Course 2: Fried scallop crostini with pancetta and leek vinaigrette

                    Course 3: Seared scallops with vanilla beurre blanc over cauliflower puree

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: JungMann

                      you had me until course three. vanilla beurre blanc?

                      1. re: alkapal

                        Vanilla and scallops, as well as shrimp for that matter, go surprisingly well together.

                          1. re: MGZ

                            Not being much of a fan of the combo vanilla + seafood (regardless of subtlety), the absolute worst offense ever was at a local sushi bar where a scallop was served with a dollop of strawberry yogurt. I'm not kidding.

                            1. re: linguafood

                              That sounds like a dare: "dude, I put a scallop in the bottom of this expired Dannon . . . ."

                              1. re: linguafood

                                That sounds a major Yuck as far as I'm concerned. Sacrilege.

                                1. re: Gio

                                  It was positively awful. Scallop abuse.

                            2. re: JungMann

                              do you like lavender flavor in food? just curious. i definitely cannot stand that.

                        1. Well, sometimes when you ask for somethin' you get more than you bargained for. Five dozen "in shell" scallops and a couple dozen more already shelled. Now, if you have never shucked* five dozen scallops, I assure you it is kinda a messy job (I wound up bleaching down my kitchen this morning and still have the almost, sticky-sweet smell of scallops in my nose's mind).

                          As a result of the effort that went into the shuckin', I wound up cutting back on my grandiose prep plans. I ate three raw with their roe right away. The mollusks were only a coupla hours out of the water, so that seemed like something that I had to do - sorta owed it to my fellow 'hounds. They were sugary sweet, slightly tart from the squeeze of lime, with a little funk from the roe. All in all, it was a fantastic experience (but, since the scallops were so fresh, only the roe added any discernible "seafood" flavor - kinda like when you eat striped bass before it has "settled" for half a day or more).

                          After that, however, I had to roll up my sleeves for a while. By the time I had cleaned them all, and delivered a couple dozen to some neighbors, I had little energy to cook (moreover, my kitchen was pretty wrecked). Also, sadly, I hadda toss quite a bit of roe. It doesn't freeze well and, apparently, not everyone is fond of it.

                          At my wife's request, I did several in basically the way Gio describes. The only substitution was tarragon stems for the thyme suggested. Absolutely the best scallop dish I've ever cooked. The super-sweetness of the scallops treated the tarragon very well. They were almost candy-like.

                          Finally, I decided that I had to indulge my childhood memories of my Grandmother's treatment. Flour-egg-breadcrumbs then pan fry. That took out another six.

                          At present, I have a few dozen in the freezer for the next two weeks. Mrs. Z wants scallop burgers soon, so that will be coming soon. This weekend, we have guests for dinner, so I will treat them. Nonetheless, if you put one in front of me right now, I don't think I could choke it down.

                          Thanks to all of you for helpin' me think this project through.

                          *To be clear, I have shucked hundreds and hundreds of clams and oysters. Scallops are a whole different animal.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: MGZ

                            So glad you enjoyed the scallops, MGZ. Most times a simple treatment of fresh food is the most delicious.

                            Curious thing about me and scallops is... I've lived near the ocean all my life and my family has always eaten fresh seafood of every description. Because my mother was allergic to scallops that's the only thing she didn't cook or order out, so I had my first when I was about 40 y/o. With great trepidation. I couldn't believe how sweet they were and what I had missed...

                            1. re: Gio

                              Completely contrary to your experience, I had my first scallop when I was first getting teeth. My Grandmother, according to family legend, poached it for a couple minutes, sorta chopped/minced it up, and spoon fed it to me. Loved 'em ever since. Forty years later, after last night's experience, I don't think I could even smell another one this morning.

                            2. re: MGZ

                              Just wanted to say, I'm jealous and salivating.

                              1. re: youareabunny

                                I woulda gladly traded two dozen for someone to "de-scallop" my kitchen this morning.

                              2. re: MGZ

                                If you are gonna make scallop burgers soon, as you say the Mrs. is in the mood for, from those awsome fresh ones you just froze, might I suggest a classic throw-back type of side or topping of carrot-cumin slaw. A splash of vinegar and salt in the shredded carrot with cumin and scallops are in heaven, and the Mrs. too! ENJOY!


                              3. Someone GAVE you a few dozen scallops? The first thing I would do is fall on my knees and give thanks for such a friend. Sea scallops cost $25 lb in Chicago---'way more than lobster.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Querencia

                                  Well, I was rewarded with five dozen scallops in the shell and another three or more that had been shucked. They weren't exactly free 'cause I had done somethin' in return first (think like the olden days when doctors would take a chicken for delivering a baby or whatever). Ultimately, we helped someone and they rewarded us. I'm a fan of barterin' 'cause often you get what folks think your services are worth, in their means, not what anyone settles on as the value in something as esoteric as money.

                                  At bottom, our work may have been worth less than the market value of the scallops, but it wasn't to our client. Life is best with such an approach. Money is often dirty - Good deeds never are.

                                  As noted above, I shared some of the excess with a couple neighbors. I'll betcha someday, if I'm in a pinch they'll be there for me. All good, no?(Oh, and by the way, these scallops woulda been $45 a pound in Chicago - if you coulda gotten 'em there in three hours from the Atlantic.)

                                2. By way of follow up . . . I have dinner for five on Saturday night and scallops left to use. I want to figure out a cool way to use several of the as an appetizer. The catch is, since I now have so many cleaned shells at my disposal, I'd like to do something that involves serving them in the shells.

                                  A Coquilles St. Jaques type approach that gets broiled with breadcrumbs? Scallops used in a crab dip type recipe? I think these are half-baked idea. Anyone got a way I could do somethin' cool? Maybe, like, some kinda gound scallop paste baked in the shell toped with a pan seared one or something?

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: MGZ

                                    If your feeling Asian American you can try dynamite style. But that kinda depends if your crowd likes spicy.

                                    1. re: youareabunny

                                      Well me and Mrs. Z can never find anythin' too spicy. I'll have to ask about the others.

                                      One thing I thought of is sorta grindin' a bunch down. Par cooking 'em in a skillet with butter, a pinch of ground chile, and tarragon, mixing with beaten egg and some breadcumbs then stuffing 'em into shells. I could top that with a bit more breadcrumbs and some grated, hard cheese and broil 'til done? Sorta a scallop crab cake kinda thing?

                                      1. re: MGZ

                                        Sounds sexy. Breadcrumbs inside and on top?

                                        Unrelated to my Asian style but I once saw a recipe where they topped the scallop in some crumb of spiced bread and broiled it.


                                        Sorry it's in French. But the main point is the bread is flavored with Cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, coconut, & orange peel (some or all of these, depending on the recipe).

                                        The chef baked it himself but some recipes call for the purchased bread. Anyway thought I'd throw that out there, in case that flavor combo appeals to you. The flavorings are strong but the topping is minimal. Kinda similar to your idea, then again totally not.

                                        1. re: MGZ

                                          I have my mother's scallop shells and use them for Clams Oraganta. I don't see why you can't use scallops for the same. I wouldn't grind them up, however. Perhaps quarter them or slice in half through the middle. Put scallop/s in a shell, sprinkle them with a heavy dose of Oreganata mix, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, bake at pre-heated 450F 8 or 9 minutes depending on size.

                                          Oraganata :
                                          Combine dry bread crumbs (I sometimes use Panko) with chopped garlic, parsley, oregano, thyme, Parmigiano, EVOO, lemon juice and white wine (instead of bottled clam juice). Chop the herbs finely and season everything with salt & white pepper. This is also terrific with other seafood including fillets as well.

                                      2. re: MGZ

                                        If you want to put in the effort, there's the Top Chef dish, braised pork belly and scrambled scallops:


                                        I had a great dish of seared scallops w/ a cauliflower puree, like this:


                                        And, then there's seafood sausage wrapped in cabbage wth miso mustard:


                                      3. The recipe for Seared scallops with Chinese sausage and peas by Ottolenghi caught my eye recently:


                                        I'm just waiting for good scallops to give it a try!

                                        1. Okay, you've probably used them by now, but I thought I'd add a suggestion. DH and I love lobster rolls, I got to thinking about scallop rolls and somehow, out of the blue, decided to make them and to use the Joe's Stone Crab mustard sauce on them. I just dusted the giant diver scallops with flour S&P, pan sauteed quickly in butter, buttered and toasted split top rolls and first added shredded lettuce, then the scallops, quartered and topped with the mustard sauce. Now a household favorite. You can Google up Joe's Stone Crab Mustard Sauce.

                                          1. I'm really glad I started this thread. There are so many excellent ideas.

                                            Since the weather is supposed to be nice, now I'm tryin' to think of a way to prep the scallops on the offset. One though was to create a scallop mixture, fill the shells, and cook 'em with indirect heat. I have some seasoned pieces of applewood that, if used sparingly, could let me make a weird barbecued scallops casino kinda thing. Properly seasoned I think it could be cool, but wood fire and seafood can be tough to pull off (I've done something like it with lobster though).

                                            Maybe I'm nuts and should do the scallops inside and a meat on the offset? I could get some real fresh Monkfish to have for the main, maybe make kebob's?

                                            Also, Candy, the "Scallop Roll" idea sounds great. It reminds me that Mom likes me to make a fried scallop sub on top-spilt hot dog rolls. She's a tartar sauce girl, but that mustard seems like it would be great. Maybe do it in late summer when the tomatoes are poppin'?

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: MGZ

                                              Why not smoke a few? And by that I *really* mean smoke them with your applewood pieces on the grill :-)

                                              Mmmmmsmoked scallops!

                                            2. OK, so I did the dinner with the scallops last night. In order to make it a meal, however, I sent my Dad to pick up "whatever the guys tell you I'd want" at the fish mongers across the River. At this point they know him, get a kick outta him, and, I think, he's started to like running this errand for me.

                                              Anyway, the old man picks up four pounds of monkfish tails and a big slab of tuna. The guys told 'im, "Your boy's gonna be happy."

                                              So, I decided that the scallops should be simple - baked/broiled with a bit of olive oil, butter, fresh dill, and fresh tarragon. I served it as a appetizer and five of us destroyed two dozen and half a loaf of bread (for dippin') in less than ten minutes.

                                              Now, I'm in the kitchen, making the saffron, tomato, pimenton sauce/stock in which to braise the monkfish I'm cleaning. It smells real good and everyone's enjoying their drinks and talkin' about how they were the "best scallops ever". Hell, I was even streaming Dean Martin radio on MOG to keep things fun.

                                              So, Dad mentions the tuna that the guys talked him into. The ladies ask, "What are you gonna do with that?"

                                              Me, havin' no plan to serve it, say, "I wasn't really thinking about it. " I then said, hoping to dissuade them, "I spose I could just give you all a taste of it 'as is'."

                                              "OK?" was the general consensus.

                                              So, I proceed to slice some cuts. Bein' the cook, I indulged in a poorly cut piece to decide how to dress it, you know, thinking, "Should I make a tataki? Do I need wasabi? Etc."

                                              "Sh*t. Wow. Really, Dad?" It tasted like cold Atlantic water with a fatty, creamy wonderment.

                                              I cut about a dozen thin slices, dropped maybe a few spots of tamari on the edges and put out some chopsticks. No one talked. The tuna disappeared. I'm just glad I had some in the kitchen.

                                              I won't bother to mention the monk or the salad I labored over. After the tuna, no one really cared. Hell, I'm not sure that they'll even remember the scallops that they "ooed" over.

                                              Pretty funny, huh? You can labor over the perfect dish, the perfect plan. But, sometimes, it's really just the ingredient that can steal the show.

                                              1. I am too knocked out with envy to come up with a suggestion. Where I live, sea scallops are $27 lb and they're not like in New England. But I would not do a thing to intrude on their natural flavor.