Wednesday, 8 July 2009

scallops with chorizo


i've decided to finally face the fish issue, once and for all. from now on, i will try to buy only mcs-certified stuff, or fish and shellfish i know isn't endangered.

it's not a major change of heart or anything. i have thought about this in the past and i would have never eaten tuna or cod or something i knew was in trouble. but somehow, a few prawns would always sneak into quick weekday suppers, or some bream from a dodgy greek farm for a weekend dinner, or a bag of frozen baby octopuses (octopi?) going cheap at steve hatt's.

i think it's snorkeling in turkey that did it for me. we brought the masks, the fins and the boots - but there were no fish. apparently, turkish coastline has been overfished, including by dynamite. which is fairly typical.

i did see two cuttlefish in the shallow by some submerged ruins in phaesalis - that was pretty amazing. they stopped to look at me - whereas with other fish (and some mammals), the overwhelming impression you get is of a dumb, unseeing creature, with squid it's different. it's like they've got you in their sights, and they are watching you as much as you are watching them. these two hung around for ages, first just observing (and moving back and forth in perfect unision, in that disconcerting, squid-like way), but when we started swimming, they performed a threatening display of making themselves look bigger and changing colours. they're amazing creatures. not sure how i'll eat one again.

scallops, though, i can eat quite happily. i know this is a bit of a masterchef recipe, in the sense that it's been done to death and is almost certainly being served in a restaurant with pretensions near you. but that doesn't mean it's not good - there is a reason why these things catch on and become popular.

salty and spicy chorizo with sweetly bland scallops, served on some peppery salad is a classic combination. it also works with black pudding, or bacon, and you can add other bland, earthy flavours in the background like cauliflower or jerusalem artichokes. in fact, just before we went on holiday, i made a similar thing with cauliflower pure and roasted tomatoes.

SCALLOPS WITH CHORIZO
for two as a generous starter

16 small scallops
100g chorizo, cubed or sliced into rounds 1cm thick
2 handfuls of peppery salad leaves (i used spinach, watercress and rocket)
a squeeze of lemon juice

fry the chorizo in a pan until crisp. you don't need any oil and chorizo will release lots. remove with a slotted spoon, then fry the scallops in the leftover oil for about a minute on each side, depending on size. return the chorizo to the pan, heat everything through very briefly and squeeze over some lemon juice. serve immediately over some torn salad leaves.

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