Thursday, September 8, 2011

Scallop foraging? It's a shore thing!

Do you remember those hazy summer trips to the coast as a child? You'd stand at the edge of a rock pool in your baggy bathers, slathered in sunblock, net poised, just itching to pounce on the next live sea creature you laid eyes on.

Wow - a crab! It scuttles! And look at that crazy blue fish! What the ... shrimp? Shrimp! I got shrimp!

Into your sand encrusted bucket they'd all go.

As an inland child, I lived for those breezy seaside days. Now that I'm all grown up and living close to the coastline however, I realized that I don't spend enough time foraging for sea creature food.

This thought came to me in September just as scalloping season had been extended to September 25th. Deep down, I must have known. The scallops were calling me.

Now, if you've never done this before, the lovely folks at the Sea Hag Marina in Steinhatchee are always happy to get you started. Scalloping is limited to the area from the Pasco / Hernando County Line to Mexico Canal Beach. Thankfully, Sea Hag has a pretty well equipped enterprise right there. Bundle some snacks, an icebox, snorkel, swim fins and a mesh bag for your catch into the car before taking off - this is pretty much all you're going to need all day.

Once you arrive, you have options. You can swank up the operation by renting your very own boat, which will set you back $199 for the whole day, or you can take your chances and wade to the various fishy hiding places - about three miles out. You'll usually find plenty of fellow scallopers willing to give you a ride in their boat too. Either way, you will need to obtain an inexpensive saltwater fishing license before you set out.

Thankfully, these particular sea creatures are not very sneaky. If you spy a crowd of boats gathered in one spot, it's usually an indication of good pickings so head on over. Scallops tend to attach themselves to just about anything - blades of grass and brown algae are among their favorite hiding places - delicious seafood just waiting to be plucked. Swoop on in, scoop, and throw 'em in your net.

Back on the shore, there are various local ladies who will clean the scallops for a small fee. This really is worth doing as cleaning can be a messy and tricky business. These scallops, wet and heavy in their net bag, are going the meet their end with the seasoning of black pepper, ginger, lemon and lip-tingling hot red chilies.

You will need:

- Your fresh as can be scallops
- Three teaspoons of olive oil 
- One tablespoon of lemon juice
- Small piece of ginger, grated
- Medium red chilies, seeds removed, finely chopped
- One clove of garlic, finely chopped
- As much soy sauce as you'd like to flavor
- Black ground pepper

Heat the olive oil and begin to lightly fry the chilies and ginger. And the scallops and garlic and cook for around two minutes on each side. Take off the heat and add a really generous dash of soy sauce before serving over a bed of noddles - drizzling with the cooking sauce. 

There won't be much liquid but, what you do have, will be a hot, sharp and extremely satisfying.

Of course, you needn't do anything fancy when it comes to cooking your day's catch. Scallops are divine when sauteed in garlic and butter. Simple yet delicious.

I had a chat with Jennifer Bingham, wine aficionado and owner of Cru Cellars, to get her opinion on wine pairings for fresh scallops. First and foremost, she recommended The Zind Humbrecht Chardonnay/Auxerrois blend, which retails at $30 at Cru Cellars.

'This wine has a nice richness and weight on the palate like most Alsatian wines, and the Chardonnay brings a subtle creaminess too. Wine can often bring a sour, metallic taste out in scallops but this balances the minerality perfectly and also matches the weight. It's seriously the best wine I've ever had paired with scallops.'

Jen continues, 'If you're using a cream-based sauce, a big, buttery California Chardonnay could work well too. I like the Costa de Oro Chardonnay, which retails at $25.' 

The table is set, the wine is chilled, what are you waiting for? Once the smell and taste of these delicious little morsels hook you, you'll be a scalloper for life. And that's a promise.

1 comment:


Ah, hello SO thrilled to have found your blog. Although, I'm a fashion blogger. I'm also a huge foody fan, & all of these recipes look amazing! Can't wait to follow along & start making some of these tasty treats. What a beautiful blog!! xo veronika

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