Friday, January 21, 2011

Scallops: delicious and easy to prepare

You want to prepare something special but no time to cook? Scallops are the perfect food for the occasion.

Scallops are a marine bivalve mollusk (similar to mussels and oysters) found in the oceans all over the world. The name scallop comes from the French ‘escalope’, which means shell. The shells are sometimes bright colored and have the characteristic fluted fan shape.

They do not anchor to rocks but they lay on the bottom of ocean floor where they move opening and closing the shell. To do this they have a very large muscle, much larger than those of other mollusks.  The internal body has mainly two parts: a bright orange ‘tongue’ and a large white muscle.

While the whole organism is edible (in Europe and in the East they eat it entirely like oysters) in the US only the white muscle is eaten. It looks like a white solid cylinder of flesh. The flavor is very delicate and is generally prepared with mild, butter based sauces to avoid covering its taste.
 Here is a simple and delicious recipe that can be arranged in few minutes.

Scallops with Basil 
see also
1 lb (400 gr) shelled scallops
salt and pepper
flour for dusting
2-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, mashed
1 tablespoon butter
2-3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Season the scallops with salt and pepper, and dust lightly with flour, shacking off the excess.

Heat the oil in a frying pan, and add the scallops. Reduce heat to medium high and sauté for about 2 minutes on all sides.

Add garlic and cook for 2 more minutes until golden and just firm....

... sprinkle with lemon juice, add butter and a few tablespoons of water if the pan is too dry.

Add basil, toss to blend, and serve warm.

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