Scallops

IMG_1656One of the finest meals I have had in the Cottage was a plateful of scallops and bacon.

We were there over Easter and it was the last week of the season. I bought the scallops from Tommy. I must have seen him coming in and i would have walked up the pier to see what he had. I took six of them still in their tightly closed shell just out of the water. i can’t remember what I paid for them but it won’t have been much.

I had bought a couple a few days previously from Michael the fisherman on him pulling up in his car one evening by the gate and opening his boot to show me what he had. Those had been muddy and disappointing.

Tommy’s smelt clean and of the sea. I had them that evening. After some consulting of books I worked out how to prise open the shell and clear away frill and mantle leaving myself with the white nugget of the abductor muscle and its orange roe. I was careful as I did to keep the two parts of the shell attached. I have four of them still downstairs in the basement.

If you have to hand a copy of Alan Davidson’s North atlantic Seafood take a look at the entry on scallops and admire the drawing showing how they look when opened up.

To cook them I chopped up some Maple Cured Gubbeen Bacon and fried it slowly in a drop of olive oil until it started to give off some its fat. I then turned up the heat and threw in the scallops turning them over after a couple of minutes. Just before serving them I poured in a drop of white wine to take up the caramelised bacon on the bottom of the pan. No-one else wanted to taste them so I ate them all by myself and the were delicious and sweet.

I was reminded of the meal on the back on an article in The Observer Magazine yesterday. It was about scallop fishermen off the  West coast of Scotland the escalating dispute between those who dive and handpick their scallops and the boats that dredge them up from the bottom. The latter method is described as being a bit like cutting down a rainforest to catch a parrot. Although the article clearly sides with the hand divers it doesn’t shy away from all of the arguments around the issue.

I can remember seeing the great heavy iron drag gear on the back of Tommy’s boat that Easter and I can’t help but think on the fact that apart from mackerel and pollock there are very few other fish to be caught in the great expanse of the bay. Something to talk about in the summer perhaps.

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