Cooking with Nathan : Scallops

It’s Saturday night, and I’ve got ten scallops from the fishmonger on Giudecca waiting to be cooked. But what am I going to do with them?

Now, the classic Scallops with Black Pudding is always a winner, but – unsurprisingly – I don’t have any of the latter and I find recipes that begin with ‘First make your black pudding’ a little depressing. However, I know that there’s half a pumpkin in the fridge that needs using up, so what could be better than scallops with a pumpkin puree? Then Caroline reminds me that she used the last of it up making soup for lunch…

Okay then. There must be something in the fridge that I can use to put a scallop on. Scallops with sprouts seem like a recipe for which the world is not yet ready but, fortunately, we have a small celeriac.

So here we are : scallops with bacon on a celeriac puree. It’s dead easy, doesn’t take a lot of time and it even looks a little bit cheffy!

Ingredients (for two)

Ten scallops
Small celeriac
100g bacon (or equivalent)


  1. Peel and dice the celeriac and put it on to steam until tender (20-25 minutes).
  2. In the meantime, dice the bacon (or equivalent) into small cubes and fry it until crisp. I used guanciale, as that’s what I had, but pancetta would have worked equally well. You need something suitably fatty though, as the fat is going to come in useful.
  3. Scallops aren’t that difficult to shuck and clean but they can take a bit of time if you’re not an expert (I’m not) so why risk a messy accident? The fishmongers did all that for me without me even asking and they did a better job than I’m likely to do. So just clean them gently (don’t run them under a tap as scallops soak up water) and pat them dry with kitchen towel. The drier they are, the more chance of them caramelising nicely in the pan.
  4. Once the bacon has fried to your satisfaction, take it out of the pan with a slotted spoon and keep it warm.
  5. Mash the celeriac. Now you could just use a fork or a potato masher, but celeriac has a fibrous quality that can make it a little difficult, so I took a hand blender to it. Then add butter and/or cream until the consistency seems right. Season, and let it join the bacon somewhere warm.
  6. Now you need to work quite quickly. Reheat the bacon fat until it’s sizzling, and add your scallops to the pan. For a good sized scallop, one minute a side is just about perfect. Much more than that and they’ll start to toughen up.
  7. Make five little mounds of celeriac puree on each plate. Put a scallop on top of each, and then scatter the bacon and some chopped parsley over the top.
  8. Serve with a glass of prosecco. Bask in the admiration of your loved one. Try and ignore the plaintive looks from your cat.

    I cooked this whilst listening to HP Lovecraft’s “The Shadow over Innsmouth” on audiobook. Howard, of course, was notoriously phobic about any kind of seafood, but I like to think even he might have enjoyed this…

    Buon Appetito

2 thoughts on “Cooking with Nathan : Scallops

  1. That looks absolutely professional and delicious, guanciale must be even better than bacon. I notice you left the corals on, are they removed sometimes?


    1. They are sometimes, it very much depends on the chef. Personally I like them, and also think they look very pretty so I leave them on. Gordon Ramsay removes them and cooks them at 50 degrees or so for about ten hours until they reduce to a powder which can be used as a garnish….but personally I think life is a bit too short for all that!!


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