Simply food

SCALLOP FISHING IN THE ARTIC

I once went well beyond the expected to get fresh scallops and they were worth the effort.

Inukshuk crew

On an expedition to film inukshuks in the Artic, I spent a couple of weeks in a chartered open boat, camping on the shore and living off the land with an Inuit crew and a couple of hardened production types, André and Nick. (Yes, I know the proper inuktitut language plural of inukshuk is inukshuit, but hey, we’re two thousand miles further south now and anyway, the documentary won awards.) I recall we had duck, barbecued on an open fire and eaten almost raw, fish galore and one day an absolute plethora of huge scallops.

Stranded in a cove by a nasty rain squall which threatened to swamp our overloaded boat, our captain, who happened to be the mayor of the local village, radioed his cousin who was nearby in a much larger fishing boat. We unloaded all the shooting gear and the spare cans of fuel which were weighing us down and we southerners opted to ride back to base in the warm comfort of a boat with a cabin, while our hardy crew toughed it out in our wake.

The Arctic in July: Nick and André shooting in icy conditions

Turns out the cousin had been out with an expert on loan from the Newfoundland fisheries, doing tests to establish the viability of a local scallop harvest. I never learned the result of the experiment, but they had ended the day with literally buckets of juicy scallops. Back at the village’s meagre motel, where we slept in dormitories with complete strangers, the kitchen was closed. The only staff member on duty kindly opened it up for us. I found some cooking oil and the Newfie and I fried heaping platters for everyone. Less than four hours from sea to pan, they were mouth wateringly tender and tasty beyond belief.

Starters can come in many sizes and shapes, but for sheer luxury and excellence, its hard to beat a single large fresh pan fried scallop, garnished with a small spoonful of fresh salmon caviar and a sprig of parsley. Other appropriate garnishes would be fresh dill, a dollop of tartare sauce, or a swirl of truffle aioli on the plate. If one looks ungenerous, then give them two smaller ones. Your choice. Or give them one tiny one and call it an amuse bouche. Honestly, this dish can easily be prepared in the few minutes between calling your guests to the table and doing serious kitchen work on the mains.

PAN FRIED SCALLOPS

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is scallop.jpg

Shopping list

  • 1 or 2 scallops per person
  • Olive oil
  • Butter

Garnish

  • 1 tsp salmon roe caviar per person
  • Parsley

Preparation and cooking

  1. Heat equal quantities of oil and butter (the oil will keep the butter from burning) in a frying pan until they are smoking hot.
  2. Wash and dry the fresh scallops, then place them with tongs into the hot fats.
  3. After no more than 3 mins, turn them over and cook for another 3 mins, until both sides are browned.
  4. Lift them out with the tongs and drain them on a thick paper towel.
  5. Serve on a small plate, with the salmon roe caviar and parsley for garnish and serve at once.

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