(10 seconds each to read and are almost that quick to prepare)
By Lisa Messinger
Food and Cooking at Creators Syndicate
It isn't fishy why you may not be preparing scallops at home. After all, even though the actual process is usually easy, studies often have shown that seafood is the ingredient most home cooks feel the least competent preparing. That would even include the most familiar types, like shrimp or salmon.
Therefore, scallops, those edible bivalve mollusks that come from the ribbed fan-type shells many of us covet finding while walking on the beach, may cause even more trepidation. A staple on upscale restaurant menus, home use is only recently blossoming, according to the U.S. government's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries, which promotes National Seafood Month every October to bring attention to sustainable fishing (regarding which the U.S. is the global leader, according to the U.S. Commerce Department).
So easy to prepare and so sustainable are scallops that, for National Seafood Month in 2014, Oceana, a nonprofit organization that is the world's largest ocean conservation and advocacy organization, chose a recipe for scallops to promote. It was from Chef Nora Pouillon of Restaurant Nora in Washington, D.C. and the suggestion was to cover the scallops in a black sesame crust and drizzle with orange ginger sauce. Sauteing until brown and slightly crispy takes just 3 minutes per side.
Even simpler are the two recipes that follow, also promoted in order to further the use of scallops at home. The National Watermelon Promotion Board developed a refreshing summer kebab for which scallops are cooked in boiling water for 5 minutes and then grilled for 90 seconds while paired with watermelon on skewers.
The State of New Jersey Department of Agriculture, which includes the famed Jersey Shore communities, promoted the ceviche bruschetta recipe of restaurant chef Fred Madonna. Ceviche is a world-renowned dish originating in Latin countries where raw seafood is cured in citrus juices including spices. Therefore, Madonna, who in addition uses balsamic vinegar for the curing, shows off the easiest use of scallops of all: no cooking involved.
In 2013, New York Times food columnist and bestselling cookbook author Mark Bittman (who wrote, "creamy, sweet, briny and meaty at the same time, scallops are the most user-friendly of mollusks") showed off a dozen ways to "serve the perfect scallop." Coinciding with their ease of preparation (of which he includes raw versions), his main overall advice if you do cook: "Err on the side of undercooking. Take the scallops off the grill before they're opaque all the way through. If you undercook a scallop, it will still be delicious. If you overcook a scallop, it will get rubbery."
Following are a few pairing tips adapted from Bittman's recipes:
- Raw scallops that have been tossed with lemon juice, salt and freshly ground black pepper are good atop cooked bacon.
- Gently mix chunks of raw scallops in a fresh tomato salsa to which you've also added balsamic vinegar.
- Serve grilled scallops atop a salad of kale, red onions and pitted black olives with a light vinaigrette dressing.
- Serve grilled scallops gently mixed with fresh corn kernels, diced fresh peaches and chopped tomatoes sprinkled with chopped fresh basil, salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Fun fare like this also proves food preparation can be easy, nutritious, inexpensive, fun - and fast. They take just 10 seconds each to read and are almost that quick to prepare. The creative combinations are delicious proof that everyone has time for creating homemade specialties and, more importantly, the healthy family togetherness that goes along with it!
Another benefit: You effortlessly become a better cook, since these are virtually-can't-go-wrong combinations. They can't help but draw "wows" from family members and guests.
SCALLOP AND WATERMELON KEBABS
12 sea scallops
4 cups boiling vegetable or chicken broth
24 (1-inch-by-1-inch) watermelon cubes
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon fresh minced ginger
Yields 12 servings.
Cut the scallops into halves across the diameter to create half-moon shapes. Place them in a heatproof casserole dish in a single layer. Carefully pour the boiling clear broth over the scallops and let them cook for 5 minutes. Carefully drain and cool the scallops.
On each skewer alternate 1 cooled half-moon scallop, then 2 watermelon cubes, then another half-moon scallop. Mix together the soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic and ginger and brush the kebabs as they are grilled over a medium hot grill for about 90 seconds per side turning once, just until warmed. Serve warm.
-National Watermelon Promotion BoardSCALLOP CEVICHE BRUSCHETTA
10 sea scallops, cut into 1 / 4-inch pieces
3 tomatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 bunch basil, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped fine
10 Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped coarsely Juice of 1 lime 1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil, plus a small amount for drizzling
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus a small amount for garnish
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 baguette of French or Italian bread, cut into 1-inch slices
Yields 6 servings.
In a large steel mixing bowl, combine the scallops, tomatoes, basil, garlic and olives. Add the lime juice, vinegar, oil and cheese. Add pepper and let sit in refrigerator for 30 minutes. Let the acid from the lime and vinegar marinate the scallops.
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Drizzle oil and a dash of cheese on bread slices. Bake for about 1 minute, until golden brown. Do not burn.
Spoon the scallop mixture on the toast and serve immediately.
-State of New Jersey Department of AgricultureQUICK TIP OF THE WEEK:
Megan Kimble wrote "Unprocessed: My City-Dwelling Year of Reclaiming Real Food
." Here's one of her many discoveries that resulted in her stopping weighing herself: "I'd learned that the foods of this year filled me differently. After expending so much mental energy differentiating processed from unprocessed, I have no more resolve to spend on serving size, so I eat by the measure of satiety rather than size. I still slipped up, sometimes still ate more unprocessed food than my stomach really wanted...but I was learning. As it seemed, so was my body. Without conscious intervention, it was maintaining itself, its weight and its strength."
is a first-place winner in food and nutrition writing from the Association of Food Journalists and the National Council Against Health Fraud and author of seven food books, including the best-selling The Tofu Book: The New American Cuisine with 150 Recipes
(Avery/Penguin Putnam) and Turn Your Supermarket into a Health Food Store: The Brand-Name Guide to Shopping for a Better Diet
(Pharos/Scripps Howard). She writes two nationally syndicated food and nutrition columns for Creators Syndicate and had been a longtime newspaper food and health section managing editor, as well as managing editor of Gayot/Gault Millau dining review company. Lisa traveled the globe writing about top chefs for Pulitzer Prize-winning Copley News Service and has written about health and nutrition for the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, Reader's Digest, Woman's World and Prevention Magazine Health Books. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com.