Recently my man with pan took a week off to go cold water diving in Newfoundland. This is hardcore scuba diving, folks. My intrepid hubby and his friends will go to no end of trouble and discomfort to explore the seabed.
The water temperature off the coasts of Bell Island, NFLD in early summer is usually around 5ºC (40ºF). Good temperature for storing chip dip but not for a skinny dip if you know what I mean.
Although this temperature may not be comfortable for mammals like me, it’s ideal for sea scallops. The picture above shows Martin holding one of the scallops he and his dive party harvested in Conception Bay. They ate some raw on the boat but took the rest back to their hotel where Martin pan-fried them to create a feast for his party.
Although readers in most parts of Canada are unlikely to be able to get scallops this fresh, you can find scallops this size and quality at many fishmongers. Here are a few tips for choosing and cooking scallops.
• Ask for untreated scallops. They will cost more but the taste will be sweeter and cleaner than other scallops, which have been coated in preservatives.
• Look for scallops that are evenly sized so that they cook uniformly. The choicest size (pictured above) is U10.
• Remove the knob shaped muscle on the side of each scallop before cooking. This is the connective muscle that fastened the meat to the shell. Once cooked it will be very rubbery and tasteless.
• Rinse the scallops under very cold water before preparing. Drain well and then pat completely dry on paper towel before seasoning and cooking. Adding wet scallops to a hot pan will not only cause spattering but will prevent scallops from browning.
• Don’t crowd the pan. The scallops shouldn’t touch one another while they cook if you want a golden crust to develop.
• Use a combination of oil and butter to sauté scallops so that you get maximum browning but still develop great flavour.
Have you ever caught fresh scallops? If so, how did you prepare them?