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)
100g bacon (or equivalent)
- Peel and dice the celeriac and put it on to steam until tender (20-25 minutes).
- 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.
- 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.
- Once the bacon has fried to your satisfaction, take it out of the pan with a slotted spoon and keep it warm.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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…