Scallops are a funny thing for me. My oldest niece used to have a severe allergy to them when she was little; and we actually don’t know if she still would have this reaction, since out of fear and for her own protection, she never eats them or anything that even contains their juices. My brother, sister-in-law and my youngest niece, on the other hand indulge in them all the time when they are in season, especially raw. My brother, although not a fisherman by trade anymore, will be a fisherman at heart until the end of his days. I have no patience for it, but when I lived nearby I loved enjoying his bounty. We always had a continuous stream of seafood from what he caught or from the trades he made with his fisherman friends. Fresh, raw tuna, by the way, literally cut right off the just-caught fish still on the boat, is amazing. Nothing compares to eating raw fish that has just come out of the water. The Japanese have something on us there…
The Dutch do too. I love raw herrings when we visit The Netherlands. I remember this past summer on two of our visits to Noordwijk, where I simply couldn’t get enough raw herrings with onions, and I believe I ate three in a row (and could’ve continued if not out of fear of getting an upset tummy from my glutony). Of course, as with all fish, you want it to be extra fresh and hopefully not get sick from it, if you eat it raw.
I love seafood, but strangely enough since my niece was little, I’ve hardly eaten scallops. I’ve never really given it much thought until recently, when I purchased a bag of large, frozen scallops at the Chinese market we frequent. And I’m back in love with them…
I guess that out of empathy with my niece, I reacted as I did to my horse-back riding. We used to go on weekends together, so she could learn to ride; but it was not just riding. The stables were great because we were allowed to brush the horses, saddle them up, clean them up after riding, and clean up their stalls. It sounds like an awful lot of work, and it is, but for a true horse-lover, it’s pure heaven. The longer you can be with the horses, all the better. Anyway, my poor thing started having severe asthma attacks after some of the riding sessions, one of them landing her in hospital.
So, I quit altogether. And never rode again until many years later.
I’ve recently started taking up riding again and feel very rusty and slightly out of place… years without doing something will do that to me. I hope I can keep up the hobby as riding is not only fun, but therapeutic and helps relieve stress. Plus, it’s a beautiful way to be out in nature.
But back to the scallops….
Whilst they are lovely just sautéed with some butter or olive oil and a little bit of sea salt, there is just so much more you can do with them. I used some in a delicate soup the other day, which gave the soup just the right touch of gourmet, as well as texture and dose of protein. In Spain, they are called vieiras and are usually eaten inside the shell, stuffed, and are a famous delicacy from Galicia. The Galicians know best how to eat seafood in Spain, or maybe it’s because they have the best seafood.
Today, I’m sharing with you a recipe that I slightly adapted from Karlos Arguiñano, our own Spanish TV celebrity chef. He’s a delight to watch with his Basque accent and his humorous manner. He has at least one restaurant in the Basque Country and I can’t wait to go back and check it out. Honestly, I don’t know why I haven’t done so yet?!
His recipes are what we call “casero” or homey, but always with his special gourmet touch. I love to watch him on television.
I ate this all by myself as lunch with some green sprouting broccoli. But you could serve it as an appetiser for two, as well. I wouldn’t omit the Albariño from Galicia (or a fine white wine) as it adds depth to the sauce, which wouldn’t be achieved otherwise, and reduces the sweetness also. But if using wine bothers you as a Paleo person, then by all means do omit.
- 6 scallops
- 1/4 cup whole almonds
- zest of two lemons or limes (about 1 tablespoon)
- 4 cloves garlic
- sea salt
- freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 medium white onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
- 2 medium apples, peeled and sliced
- 1/2 cup olive oil (butter will work well too)
- additional sea salt
- 3 tablespoons Albariño white wine
- 2 thin fresh onions, finely sliced
- I used frozen scallops, so I defrosted first, sprinkled with some coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper and set aside.
- Preheat the oven on the grill setting.
- In a saucepan, pour the olive oil and the finely chopped onion. Poach (on very low heat) for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently so they do not burn or brown too much.
- Add the apple pieces and cook an additional 6-8 minutes until tender.
- Allow to slightly cool before pouring into an immersion blender cup, food processor or blender. Puree until smooth.
- Add the Albariño and sea salt to taste. Stir well and set aside.
- Use the same saucepan as you cooked the onions and apples for the almonds. Wipe it clean with a paper towel, but don’t worry about getting all the oil off, just the pieces of onion.
- Add the almonds and over low heat, toast until golden. Be careful to not let them burn or they will turn sour. I stir them constantly, about 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and keep stirring letting them get a bit more golden.
- Pour into a clean immersion blender cup or blender.
- Add the garlic and lemon/lime zest. Pulse until very finely chopped.
- In an ovenproof dish, place the scallops, drizzle with a bit of olive oil.
- Spoon the almond mixture over each scallop (you will have mixture leftover).
- Bake under the grill for 5 minutes.
- To plate: pour some of the apple-onion sauce on each plate and place the cooked scallops on top.
- Sprinkle the fresh onion slices over top.
- Serve as an appetiser or a meal with a vegetable as accompaniment, if desired.