Scallops With Garlicky Breadcrumbs

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Each year during our six-month stay in Umbria we try and visit Venice for a long weekend. The seafood in Venice is wonderful and so fresh that when eaten raw, it still tastes of the sea. One of my favorite treats is to visit the Rialto fish market in Venice the day we are leaving and to fill a cooler with some fish and shellfish to take back to Umbria with us. My seafood purchases change from year to year depending on what attracts my eye, but one thing I always bring home every year are fresh scallops. Being a landlocked region, Umbria is not known for its seafood apart from lake fish. Although we do have a few markets that sell a decent variety of fresh seafood, One thing we do not see that often in Umbria is fresh scallops, which are one of my favorite types of seafood.

When it comes to any seafood, I believe that fresh is always better, but if you are unsure as to just how fresh your scallops are, quick-frozen scallops may be a better choice. Thaw frozen scallops overnight in the refrigerator, not at room temperature. Scallops are often soaked in a phosphate solution that makes them nice and white, but it also causes them to absorb more liquid and can increase their weight significantly. When cooked, the scallops will release this extra liquid making it difficult to sear them nicely. For this reason, dry packed, or chemical free scallops are a better choice. Like shrimp, scallops are sold by count-per-pound. For example, sea scallops might be marked at 10/20, which just means that between 10 and 20 scallops are in each pound. Here in Italy, scallops are sold still attached to half their shell with the roe intact, though that’s usually difficult to find in the US.

I did make a mistake when I bought the scallops for this recipe as I bought them enclosed within the shell and not cleaned. They did sell them cleaned with the roe intact on the half shell, but I thought it would be an easy task to open the shells and clean them myself.  This unfortunately turned out not to be the case. The scallops I bought were extremely reluctant to leave their shells, and it took quite a bit of effort to extract them. My scallops also must have eaten heartily just before they were caught because quite a bit of cleaning was required. (I won’t go into details!) Next time I will play it safe and buy the scallops already cleaned, and sitting pretty on their half shell.

This is such an easy recipe, but it is my favorite way to prepare fresh scallops. The butter and crumb crust keep the scallops tender and moist, and the scallops can be prepared for the oven in just a few minutes. This dish would be wonderful to prepare for the upcoming holidays, especially if you were planning a Feast of Seven Fishes for Christmas Eve. If you are buying the scallops individually without the shells, you can buy scallop shells at most kitchen stores which is a great way to prepare and serve them.

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Scallops At The Rialto Fish Market In Venice

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Our Favorite Stall At The Rialto Seafood Market

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Whole Scallops Still In Their Shell

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Ready For The Oven

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Buon Appetito!
Deborah Mele 2014

Scallops With Garlicky Breadcrumbs

Ingredients:

  • 12 Fresh Cleaned Medium to Large Scallops On The Half Shell, Coral Intact If Possible
  • 2 Large Garlic Cloves, Finely Minced
  • 4 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
  • 3 Tablespoons Finely Chopped Parsley
  • 4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1 1/3 Cups Dry Breadcrumbs
  • 4 Tablespoons Butter, Diced

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together the garlic, lemon juice, parsley, olive oil, salt and pepper.
  3. Drizzle this mixture over the scallops.
  4. Scatter the breadcrumbs over the scallops, then top with the diced butter.
  5. Place the scallop shells on a foil lined baking sheet, and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the scallops are tender and the crumbs are golden brown.
  6. Serve immediately.