I spent a few days over the new year in a lovely part of Normandy, in France. Just outside Honfleur, we holed ourselves up in a gîte, eating mountains of cheese, playing board games and generally lounging around in trousers loose enough to do so that they'd almost be classified as pyjamas.
I don't know about you but when I go away I become unnaturally interested in foreign supermarkets. I can spend hours in the aisles gazing at all the different things they have to us, jealous of the large varieties of fruit and vegetables, becoming confused at having to weigh and sticker anything we buy.
As it was approaching New Year's Eve, this particular French supermarket had boxes of oysters, piles of prawns, and scallops live in their shells. The French love nothing more than to celebrate with creatures of the sea. We couldn't resist the scallops. 8 of these beauties cost 13 Euros - 13! That's around £1.20 each. I'm moving to France.
Have you ever opened a scallop? I hadn't. Thank god for YouTube. It's a damn sight easier than opening an oyster. I set about de-shelling eight scallops, which took a not-inconsiderable amount of time, and it led to me having very vivid dreams about scallop skirts. They are frilly.
Anyway, it's a crime to flavour scallops with anything too aggressive as you want the sweetness of the scallop to come through. We made a compound butter of garlic, parsley and lemon zest and set it to chill, thinking that this would be simple and beautifully delicious. But oh! We also had a bottle of Ricard just hanging around. I hate drinking Ricard. It's too reminiscent of Sambucca for my liking, without the sweet stickiness of teenage regret, but actually once flambéd, it mellows out and adds just a hint of aniseed, much like tarragon. And who doesn't enjoy setting fire to things? These turned out pretty freaking great.
Garlic Butter Scallops with Ricard
Serves 8 as a starter
8 scallops, released of their shell, with roes
150gr butter, room temperature
2 fat cloves of garlic, minced
A hefty pinch of salt
A small handful of flat leaf parsley, minced
Zest of half a lemon
A buttload of coarse sea salt - you can omit this if you have a better way of balancing scallop shells on a baking tray
A gas click-lighter, or a very long match
Set the grill on to high. Mash the butter, lemon zest, parsley and garlic together. If it's getting a little warm place in the fridge to firm up.
Scatter the salt across a foil-lined baking tray and balance the shells on top. Preheat under the grill for 10 minutes. Then add a tablespoon of the butter to each shell, and place it under the grill for another 2 - 3 minutes, making sure the butter is sizzling but the garlic isn't burning.
Add the scallops to the butter and place back under the grill for 5 minutes.
Remove, place the baking try on a heat-proof surface. Add 2 teaspoons of Ricard to each scallop, lighting the alcohol as you go, leaving the flames to go out naturally. Be careful of your eyebrows, hair, any loose clothing.
Serve with crusty bread to dip in the juices.