Tuesday, August 18, 2009


For the first, oh, 23 years of life I'd say I was pretty anti-fish. Oh sure, fishsticks and tuna fish sandwiches as a kid, but that stopped pretty early on; before I was a pre-teen (and old enough to learn about the plight of the dolphins). I finally grew up a little, and started working in NICE restaurants. Restaurants where I could not distract people with my humorous flair, but had to actually understand the dishes and the flavors and which wines might work well. It wasn't enough to say, "oh, I don't eat fish so I'm not sure" when someone asked me if the halibut was good. I needed to be able to talk about how it was prepared and how the flavors worked. And so, the first small, trepidatious bites at line up followed. Shortly thereafter, I allowed myself to be coaxed into sushi. Nevermind that it took a little liquid courage to get over my mental hangups, and that once I thought it about the next morning I literally made myself sick. What a pansy.
From there, I started eating sushi more regularly (though I'm still not all that adventurous - I know what I like and I pretty much stick to it), and having a couple of bites of a friend's fish at dinner. And then, scallops came into my life. I will never forget my first scallop. I was working at a restaurant in San Mateo and the chef made these amazing, tropical inspired scallops with flavors of mango and coconut and yummy, smooth, almost risotto like rice and WOW. I started ordering this dish on my own; not just to share a few bites. I think scallops are really what pushed me over the edge. Now, I no longer skip over the seafood section of a menu - I'll order up a yummy sounding piece of fish at a restaurant without thinking twice. Of course if I'm faced with super fishy fish or salmon, we're still in trouble. But that's because I don't like those things, not because I'm afraid of them.
In any case, my love for scallops led to me preparing them at home one night. They turned out wonderfully, yay! But, so I like seared scallops. Okay fine. How else can I make them that I'll still like them? Enter Ina Garten, of course. This woman is my hero. Left corporate life behind for a happy little food shop on the coast that she felt passionate about. A (seemingly) very happy marriage, and simple (yet successful) life. Yeah, she's not a size 2. But she eats well, and hey look everyone, she's HAPPY and in love with someone who loves her and they still have fun together and do sweet things (on tv anyway). Imagine that.
So thanks to Ina, for a tasty, artery clogging new to me way to prepare scallops.

Bay Scallop Gratin
(serves 6)
6 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 large garlic cloves, minced
2 medium shallots, minced
2 oz thinly sliced prosciutto, minced
4 tbsp minced fresh parsley, plus extra for garnish
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tbsp Pernod - this is an anise flavored liqueur and I want to trust Ina, but eeeew, anise
2 tsps kosher salt
1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
6 tbsp good olive oil
1/2 c panko
6 tbsp dry white wine (a little more than half a cup)
2 lbs fresh bay scallops (the little guys)
lemon, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Place 6 (6-inch round) gratin dishes on a sheet pan.

To make the topping, place the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (you can also use a hand mixer). With the mixer on low speed, add the garlic, shallot, prosciutto, parsley, lemon juice, Pernod, salt, and pepper and mix until combined. With the mixer still on low, add the olive oil slowly as though making mayonnaise, until combined. Fold the panko in with a rubber spatula and set aside.

Place 1 tablespoon of the wine in the bottom of each gratin dish. With a small sharp knife, remove the white muscle and membrane from the side of each scallop and discard. Pat the scallops dry with paper towels and distribute them among the 3 dishes. Spoon the garlic butter evenly over the top of the scallops. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the topping is golden and sizzling and the scallops are barely done. If you want the top crustier, place the dishes under the broiler for 2 minutes, until browned. Finish with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a sprinkling of chopped parsley and serve immediately with crusty French bread.

1 comment:

Cynical Siren said...

Really? A fish hater was converted by scallops? That is truly shocking to me. I'm not a fan of the scallop. They're generally rubbery and gritty, and yes, I've tried them (bites of other peoples) at nice shi shi restaurants. Maybe I just need you to make them for me ;)

Oh, I kind of like them raw in sushi.