A starter of sweet shellfish paired with nutty butter
Scallops are a luxury and very much a special treat, but they’re also a great place to start when encouraging children to try shellfish. They taste beautifully sweet, especially accompanied by the nutty butter. The shells give hours of entertainment too, transformed into objets d’art once carefully decorated with nail varnish.
150g unsalted butter
Juice of ½-1 lemon
A few sprigs of any selection of chervil, dill, parsley and some chives
1 tbsp olive oil
Trim the little piece of firm white muscle from the scallops (found on the opposite side from the coral). Heat the butter in a small pan without stirring, until it froths and then browns. Once it smells sweet, nutty and has bricky-brown speckles you must add the juice of ½ a lemon to stop it burning.
Remove the tender leaves or fronds from the herb stalks and chop the chives. You want about 1 tbsp of herbs in total.
Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan until searing hot and then place the scallops in the hot pan. You will probably have to cook these in two batches, don’t crowd the pan or they will sweat rather than sear. Season with salt and pepper, sear for about 2 mins and then flip over and cook until the sides are just opaque (about 2 mins longer).
Add the herbs to the nutty butter (leaving a few leaves aside as garnish), taste and add salt, pepper and more lemon juice if required. Serve the scallops on warmed plates and spoon over the beurre noisette. Eat right away with a good baguette to soak up the butter.
ALTERNATIVE: Use the caramelised butter with herbs as a sauce for any grilled or fried flat fish. Filleted sole, plaice and dabs are absolute winners with small children. Capers are delicious added to the sauce, too.