SCALLOPS are one of those troublesome ingredients which seem to baffle home cooks.
The shellfish is – like lobster – surprisingly meaty, delicately flavoured and less expensive than its clawed cousin.
The problem is its reputation for being hard to cook, not to mention the issue of what to serve it with.
It’s one of those supposedly impressive dishes always showing up on (ITALS) Come Dine With Me (ITALS) – but always as a starter.
Sidestep the overcooking predicament and scallops make a great first dish – on their own, or maybe with a sliver of crispy bacon and a smear of pea puree (a recipe straight from the Edinburgh Taste festival earlier this year, and definitely worth trying).
But since most of us don’t sit down to a multi-course meal on a Thursday night, it’s probably better to explore a side dish option – or even better, a big hearty dish with scallops as the main feature.
If you’re hankering for seafood on an ordinary weeknight, then Italian is perhaps the easiest route to take.
On then, to this week’s recipe – pan-seared scallops and chorizo with lemon linguine. Sounds fancy, but it cooks in less than 15 minutes and it’s all in the timing, rather than any particular skill.
Still, it’s a great way to impress the family with your culinary finesse – although stopping to take pictures for a Facebook boast is strictly optional...
10 scallops, coral trimmed
Half cooked chorizo ring, sliced (the recipe needs the chunkier sausage, as the thin-sliced sandwich meat will burn without releasing any oil)
Juice of 1 lemon
Finely grated parmesan cheese, to taste
(Optional, but tasty) 25g knob of butter
Boil pasta in salted water according to instructions. When ready, drain and add most of the cheese, then dress with lemon juice, tasting as you add to make sure it doesn’t end up too sour or runny.
Heat a dry pan and add the chorizo (move quickly to make sure it doesn’t burn – this step is just to release paprika-flavoured oil from the sausage, so that no extra oil is needed to fry the scallops).
Stand scallops upright in pan, cooking for just two minutes before turning over.
Allow the undersides to cook for less than one minute, then add the butter – this should melt into the pan and give the scallops a golden colour, without overcooking.
Remove from the heat immediately (no one likes a chewy scallop!) and place on top of the linguine, pouring the hot oil on top and sprinkling with the remaining parmesan.
Note: the juices and oils make a great dressing for the linguine, and are best mopped up at the end using a wedge of crusty bread – pictured is a sundried tomato roll, but garlic bread would work just as well.