My husband, Speedy, cooked this dish. Whether he found the inspiration in Nigella’s website or saw her cooking the dish on TV, I am not sure.
The original recipe, he said, had crumbled chorizo. We didn’t have chorizo so Speedy used bacon. Great choice, it turned out. The dish did not need any salt as the salt from the bacon was enough to season everything without overpowering the delicate flavor of the scallops.
But, before the recipe, let me explain a few things about scallops. Scallop is a shellfish. A bivalve mollusk, to be more precise. There are several species and they come in different sizes. We buy scallops frozen and fully cleaned. If you’re luckier and have access to fresh scallops, there are two schools of thought as to which part of the muscle is edible.
When you shuck a scallop, you will see two distinct types of muscle inside. There is a white muscle which is shaped like a flattened sphere. Then, there is the orange-y muscle surrounding it. The white muscle is what we get when we buy frozen scallops.
One school of thought says the orange-y muscle is also edible. Another achool of thought says only the white muscle is safe to eat. What is the orange-y muscle anyway? It’s called coral (obviously because of its color) and often erroneously referred to as roe (egg). It isn’t roe.
The coral has two parts, actually. There is the orange-y part and a gray portion (the frilly portion) that connects the coral to the white muscle and the shell. They are the female and male reproductive organs of the scallop, respectively. Scallops are permanent hermaphrodites so each animal has a male and female reproductive organ.
The coral is safe to eat. It is removed mostly to give the scallop better visual appeal. From experience though, the gray part of the coral (the male reproductive organ) is rather chewy. It is up to you which part of the scallop to serve and which to discard.
Easy pan-fried scallops with crispy bacon
- 12 large scallops
- 100 grams belly bacon unsweetened
- juice of half a lemon
- roughly chopped fresh parsley
- Finely slice the bacon.
- Spread the bacon in a hot oil-free non-stick pan.
- Cook, stirring occasionally, until fat had been rendered and the bacon’s color turns deeper (you can go on cooking until the bacon bits are crisp — totally up to you).
- Scoop out the bacon bits. Keep the heat on.
- To the bacon fat in the pan, add the scallops.
- Cook to sear (high heat!), a minute or two per side, depending on their size.
- Pour in the lemon juice, scraping to loosen whatever bits are sticking to the bottom of the pan.
- Transfer the scallops to a plate.
- Pour over the pan juices.
- Add the bacon bits.
- Sprinkle with parsley.
- Serve hot.