If there are ever scallops on the menu at a restaurant, I will often choose them. Andrew will always choose them. But they are frequently disappointing: they are too small, or too thinly sliced to make a little go a long way (I am looking at you, Jamie Oliver). Well, thanks to my wonderful fishmonger (discovered thanks to Covid, as Justin diversified from supplying restaurants to supplying people’s homes), I have access to the freshest scallops I have ever tasteJump to Recipe
A bit about scallops
My fresh scallops from Justin at Just Fish cost £1.50 each, so they are not cheap. But they are fresh, they are also huge, and they are already cleaned, so I literally just have to season them and pop them in a pan. Scallops from supermarkets (even the fresh fish counter) are disappointingly tiny, and I want a big meaty disc of scallop on my plate.
Portion sizes and alternatives
I would recommend having three per person (you will see the above photo has five scallops, because we are pigs and this was a main meal rather than a starter). If your budget doesn’t stretch this far, but you want to make a version of this dish, you could try defrosted frozen scallops, as they will be cheaper. Alternatively, a piece of white fish would work well (such as cod, pollock or monkfish), and I think the flavours would also work brilliantly with a piece of fresh salmon.
The classic flavour combination
Scallops with peas and bacon is a classic combination. It’s easy to make, but looks like it belongs in a restaurant. And it is a perfect dish to cook if you are entertaining, as everything can be prepared in advance. You have the sweet but firm scallop, the sweet but soft peas with a hint of mint and garlic, and the salty hit of bacon. Pureed cauliflower could replace the peas (although who doesn’t have a pack of frozen peas in their freezer … although actually I DON’T at the moment because I buggered up our Ocado order last week), and breadcrumbs which have been cooked until crispy in butter, garlic and parsley, could replace the bacon if you don’t eat pork.
Your base: the peas
These are peas which have been mushed up, but are nothing like mushy peas. Put your peas in cold water alongside a peeled clove of garlic, a sprig of mint, and some salt. Bring to the boil and drain. Blend with a splash of natural yoghurt or double cream until reasonably smooth, and season with pepper.
Your star attraction: the scallops
Season each scallop with salt and pepper and sauté in a hot pan with olive oil. Cooking times will depend on your scallop, but 2-3 minutes on each side will be enough to cook the scallop through so it’s just translucent.
The oil and juices from the scallop will start to caramelise on each scallop, which adds to the wonderful flavour, so make sure you wipe your scallop in those brown juices.
Your topping: the bacon
I like to use lardons fried in olive oil until crispy – it’s that simple!
Plating your dish
A smear of peas, your scallops, some crispy lardons, and if you have them, I recommend topping the whole lot with some pea shoots, which really does make this look even more like a restaurant dish. And voila, your scallops are ready for you to demolish!
Scallops with peas and bacon
For the peas
- 200 g frozen peas
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 sprig mint
- 1 tbsp natural yoghurt Use a splash of double cream instead
For the scallops
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 6 large scallops
- salt and pepper
For the bacon
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 100 g lardons
- Firstly, fry the lardons in olive oil until crispy and then set aside until you are ready to use them.
- Then make your pea puree by putting the peas, garlic and mint in cold water along with some salt.
- Bring to the boil and then drain.
- Blend the peas, garlic and mint with a tbsp of natural yoghurt or a splash of double cream until almost smooth, and season to taste. Keep warm until you are ready to use it.
- For the scallops, heat the olive oil in a pan and season your scallops.
- Add each scallop to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side.
- To serve, put the warm pea puree on the plate. Top with your scallops. Add the crispy bacon.
- If you have some pea shoots, top the dish with them for a restaurant style flourish.
Some more of my favourite fish recipes:
- Mum’s fish and chips
- Scallops with spinach, bacon and pine nuts
- Salmon with salsa verde and tomatoes
- Fish curry
- Comforting fish pie