They say smell is the sense most closely linked to memory recall, and that was certainly the case while making these garlicky, buttery bay scallops on toast. As waves of the wonderful aromas wafted up from the pan, they brought back a flood of vivid memories of my first real kitchen job.
Barely a teenager, I was hired as a dishwasher at an Italian steakhouse, called The Depot (pictured below is the train station that predated the restaurant). While it was fun being inside a bustling kitchen, washing dishes was anything but. By comparison, what I saw the line cooks doing looked like the greatest job ever, and this certainly played a role in my future career plans.
Anyway, there was a scallop dish on the menu, which consisted of 6 large scallops being placed in a small metal broiler plate, seasoned with salt and pepper, and then doused with wine, lemon, garlic, and butter. This was placed under the flame until the scallops were browned, and the sauce was bubbling below. It was finished with fresh parsley, and served with toasted Italian bread for dipping into the amazing juices.
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By the way, unlike the large day-boat scallops you’re seen me cook before, these are way too small to worry about searing brown. In a restaurant kitchen, if we’re just cooking a couple ounces, we could get a decent sear and still finish the sauce without overcooking. But doing this many at home, all we really need to concentrate on, is not over cooking them. Besides, bay scallops are so naturally sweet, tender, and delicious, the sear is not as important as with the larger ones.
As I mention in the video, this makes a beautiful appetizer, but will also make a killer pasta sauce with some cream added in to stretch it. I hope you can find some small, wild scallops soon (frozen are great, as long as “Scallops” is the only ingredient listed on the bag), and give this a try soon. Enjoy!
Ingredients for 4-6 appetizer size portions:
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 pound bay scallops
4-5 cloves minced garlic
1/2 cup white wine (NOT cooking wine)
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
4 tbsp cold butter, cubed
cayenne, salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
buttered and toasted Italian bread slices
*Note for pasta sauce, add a 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream with the wine, and proceed as shown. Should make enough sauce for about 4 portions of pasta)