A celebration of British seasonality from Rosie Birkett
I first ate hazelnuts with scallops in Vancouver, where gorgeous golden hazelnuts grow in abundance.
The combination of the crunchy, toasted nuts with the delicate, creamy flesh of the scallops was just divine, and I’ve paired them together ever since. Hazelnuts and cherries are happy bedfellows in many desserts, but the piquant, juicy cherries work really well here with seafood, adding a vinaigrette quality to the richness of the dish.
Shellseekers Fish & Game at Borough Market sells beautiful hand-dived scallops, caught off the Devon coast. You can buy them ready-cleaned, but it’s worth taking some shells too, as it looks really beautiful to grill the scallops and serve them in their shells. Queen scallops are plentiful right now, and will work just as well as the normal big scallops—just double the quantities.
This recipe will provide you with too much butter for this particular dish, but it’s really not worth making any less and it’s delicious with all manner of seafood or tossed through pasta, stirred through risotto or melted onto greens, so good to have some leftover.
For the pickled cherries:
150g white wine vinegar
1 star anise
50g caster sugar
A sprig of thyme
3 black peppercorns
1 tsp salt
150g cherries, halved, pitted and sliced
For the butter:
30g raw shelled hazelnuts
100g unsalted butter
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 tsp lemon juice
For the scallops:
8 scallops, cleaned
Picked chervil, to garnish
To make the pickled cherries, put the vinegar, water, star anise, peppercorns, sugar and salt in a non-reactive pan with the thyme and bring to the boil, stirring. When the sugar has dissolved add the cherries and simmer for 2 mins. Turn off the heat and pour into a sterilised jar to cool.
To make the herb butter, preheat the oven to 180C. Place the hazelnuts in a roasting tray and roast for 6-8 mins, until they smell nutty. Pour into a clean tea towel and rub them to remove the skins.
Place the nuts in a food processor and blitz lightly to release their oils before adding the butter, herbs, shallot, lemon juice, a large pinch of salt and a grind of pepper. Blitz until you have a green-flecked butter.
Drain a couple of tablespoons of the pickled cherries onto kitchen roll, then chop.
Preheat the grill to high. Brush the scallops on both sides with a little rapeseed oil, and season with salt. Place in their shells or on a roasting tray, and grill for 1-2 mins, until they’re starting to colour. Turn them over and dot with the butter, then return to the grill for 1-2 mins more, until the butter has melted.
Scatter the cherries and picked chervil over the scallops, then serve in the shells. I’d serve some crusty bread alongside for moppage.
Recipe: Rosie Birkett
Image: Helen Cathcart