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Friday, September 28, 2012

Look at my scallops, look

I encourage you all to get your hands on some fresh seafood ASAP, before the season is officially over. I recently had a craving for scallops, and had a vision in my head of the big, juicy jumbo ones that you get from Granville Island. So I took myself down there and discovered that about 4 of those fat beauties will set you back $20 before tax. Ouch.

Of course, a whole world of affordable seafood opens itself up to you if you are willing to consider frozen. Now, of course we know fresh tastes better. But unless you are a fisherman yourself it's going to be hard to maintain that kind of diet. So you may want to do what I do, which is treat fresh as an absolute treat and have frozen the rest of the time. And well frozen (on the boat as caught, never previously thawed then frozen again) fish and seafood can be delicious. So I settled for a considerable smaller scallop and about 80 of his brothers and sisters from Qualicum Bay in a frozen, vacuum-sealed bag.

Here's something I learned from the writings of a five star chef from South Carolina: nuts bring out the flavour of many seafoods like prawns, scallops and oysters. I was pretty skeptical but thought I would try his almond vinaigrette to dress my butter-grilled Bay beauties in our last seafood days:

Seared Scallops with Almond Vinaigrette

1/4 cup roasted, unsalted almonds
5 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp champagne vinegar
1 tbsp chopped fresh chives
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
8 large sea scallops or 1/2 bag of small ones
1 tbsp unsalted butter
2 sprigs thyme
2 tbsp fresh peaches, mashed in a mortar and pestle, or peach preserves
fresh microgreens

Finely chop almonds into small pieces but not into a powder. Mix almonds and 4 tbsps oil in a medium bowl. Whisk in 1 tbsp vinegar and chives, season with salt, pepper and more vinegar if desired. Set vinaigrette aside.

Heat the leftover oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Season scallops with salt and pepper. Add to skillet. Cook about 2-3 minutes. Turn scallops, add butter and thyme. Cook, frequently tilting skillet and spooning butter over, until scallops are just cooked through, 2-3 minutes longer.

For plating, place peach preserves or mixture (I added pomegranate seeds) in the centre of the plate, and surround with grilled scallops. Drizzle vinaigrette over top of scallops, top with microgreens. Serve immediately.


There is an extraordinary flavour that is added by creamy almonds to the tender, delicate scallops, but the full experience is not just about the flavour, it's also about the texture. The crunch made tart by the vinegar sets off the well-seasoned scallops. Easy to prepare and cheap, I recommend you cook these for yourself and enjoy with a glass of chilled white wine to say a proper goodbye to summer.

(recipe with my variations from Bon Appetit)

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