I have a very quickly growing affection for scallops. They are delicious, smell divinely (the detail which I find rare in seafood), are beautiful and even very pleasant to manipulate – I love their soft texture and smooth surface. They are also difficult to spoil, the only faux pas being overcooking. Not to mention the low-calorie and low-fat factor. Moreover, the constantly increasing fish and seafood prices eliminate them out of the luxurious sea products group and embolden me to even very adventurous experiments.
Yesterday I think many rigid, French cuisine fans would have said I crossed all the limits of decency in scallops experiments. I simply wanted to transform them into a warming, down-to-earth, home dish… All the French cookery books were of course out of question and I was right opting for The Boston Cooking-School Cookbook by Fannie Merritt Farmer. I have chosen the Fried Scallops. The sacrilege I committed was not only deep frying them, but sticking completely to the recipe and coating them with breadcrumbs, a culinary technique often associated with fast food. The only modification I introduced was using duck fat for frying, and, as always, it hasn’t let me down.
If I haven’t dared this “barbarous” recipe I would have never imagined scallops could be so tender and mellow, almost juicy. The taste was unforgettable. Even though they lose here their low-fat and low-calorie advantage, I’ll certainly deep-fry them hundreds if not thousands of times. (I don’t advise trying to make this recipe lighter by baking the crumbled scallops in the oven; I did it once and the result was more than disappointing… On the other hand the oven is very handy in keeping the plates warm keeping scallops warm while the following batches are made.)
Preparation: 30 minutes (or more if more batches of scallops are fried)
Ingredients (serves 2):
14 big scallops (without the coral and opaque, tough “foot”)
10 tablespoons breadcrumbs
1 egg, slightly beaten
deep frying oil or duck fat
Wash the scallops and pat them dry.
Add salt and pepper to the beaten egg and place it on a small plate.
Place the breadcrumbs in a small bowl.
Heat the plates in the oven.
Heat the deep frying oil or fat (it’s hot enough when a tiny piece of bread thrown into the fat doesn’t “sink” and stays on the surface instantly browning).
Dip the scallops first in the beaten egg, then in the breadcrumbs.
Shake off the excess coating and fry them only several at a time, otherwise the oil temperature will lower and they’ll be soaked in fat. The number of scallops in one batch depends of course on the size of your pan.
Fry the scallops around 3 minutes until they are golden.
Put them on paper towels, shake off the excess fat and put them quickly on the warm plates kept in the oven at 50°C.
I serve them with a green salad and slightly hot fruit sauces, jellies, spreads etc. (they go perfectly well with Gold Chili Jelly).