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Splurging on Delicious Sea Scallops

May 07, 1987|KAREN GILLINGHAM | Gillingham is a Los Angeles-based food writer.

Scallops are such cute things. Bite-size and symmetrical, mild and sweet, velvety and dense. Granted, they're expensive. But for an occasional treat, a quick-fix company entree or a family occasion, scallops are worth having to eat less luxuriously the other six nights of the week.

According to "The California Seafood Cookbook" (Aris Books: $12.95), the scallop is the only free-swimming mollusk. In the United States, bay and sea scallops are available, but the larger sea scallop is the most widely available (especially in the West). Sea scallops have excellent flavor and texture and are suitable to a wider variety of cooking methods and ingredients than the tiny and more delicate bay scallops.

Put Them to the Test

The chance, if not obligation, to test this suitability came recently when someone showed up with more than five pounds of sea scallops given to her by a fishing friend.

We grilled some of them on skewers with butter and lime. We simply fried others, coating them in bread crumbs first, and we spiced others Sichuan style with a recipe from "The California Seafood Cookbook."

One very fast and easy, yet tasty, recipe came from using what was on hand one night. Just garlic, a tomato and a little vinegar. Here's how it went.

SAUTEED SCALLOPS PIQUANT

1 1/2 pounds sea scallops

Salt, pepper

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 to 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1 large tomato, peeled, seeded and chopped

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

Season scallops to taste with salt and pepper. In large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add scallops and saute, stirring frequently, until almost cooked through, about 3 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer to serving platter and keep warm.

Add garlic to pan and saute just until tender but not browned. Stir in tomato and vinegar. Bring to boil and cook about 2 minutes longer, or until some of liquid has evaporated. Pour sauce over scallops and serve immediately. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

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