Scallops and Valentine’s: A How-To Guide

By Keda Black

February 14 is here! It’s the day for lovers, and – by a happy coincidence – peak scallop season. Whether you’re a novice, already have a few skills, or are a seasoned pro – we’re talking about cooking, obviously – here are three ideas for seducing your other half.

King Scallops

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Don't know how to cook?

Go raw! Your best bet is freshly shelled seafood. It’s no sweat – just drop in at the fishmonger’s shortly before dinner, and they’ll take care of it for you. Cut the scallops into slices 3-4 mm thick and arrange them attractively on a plate, alternating them with thin slices of winter radish. Season with fleur de sel, a fairly fruity, green peppercorn – Karimunda and Voatsiperifery work well – a dash of bergamot juice and a shot of olive oil that has been infused with orange zest for a few days. Sweet and spicy, like a kiss…

Of course you can open them yourself!

Hold your scallop in one hand, rounded side in the palm. Slide a rounded knife between its shell halves to force it open, and keep the shell held slightly open with your thumb. Slide the blade under the top shell to cut the muscle. It opens! Pull gently but firmly on the black sac with your fingers: all the barbs will come out, leaving only the meat, which you can remove with a knife. Keep the bottom shells. Rinse them out and put a scallop in each one. Sprinkle with one or two drops of champagne, a knob of salted butter, very finely chopped shallot rings, a little dill, and a pinch of lemon zest. Cook for 5 minutes on the top shelf of a very hot oven or, for the more daring, cook directly on the gas flame. And enjoy, while gazing into one another’s eyes.

Looking for an idea to impress?

Start by displaying your knowledge. In France, the king scallop, or Pecten maximus, is subject to strict regulations that ensure high quality. Mainly found in Normandy and Brittany, the king scallop is in season between October 1 and May 15, and cannot be fished at sizes below 11 cm. It’s not to be confused with the smaller queen scallop! While you can find decent frozen scallops, it’s best to buy fresh from the fishmonger. Now it’s time for the fireworks to begin! Prepare a coulis of cooked spinach mixed with brown butter. Slowly cook two peeled salsifies in the oven with olive oil. Dip one side only of the scallops in a mixture of sesame, poppy seed and amaranth. Sear them in hot butter in a frying pan. Arrange them, with the candied salsify, on the green coulis. Irresistible!

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