Published on September 6th, 20120
Appeared in The Resident, Wednesday, March 21 2012
By Rebecca Dunphy
‘Have you ever eaten a scallop live?’ shouts Paul, my local fishmonger at The Arcade Fisheries, Hastings. ‘No!’ I shout back as he cracks open a fanned shell and cuts off a thin slice for me to try.
A freshly shucked oyster is one of the world’s greatest delicacies, but a scallop? There was a disconcerting quiver, but to taste it was juicy and sweet, with a nutty twist and a slight whiff of the sea. I knew scallops were a lot better looking than oysters, but I had no idea they tasted this good raw.
You can buy scallops year round, but Rye Bay Scallops can only be harvested between November 1stand 30th April and they are at their plumpest and most succulent right now.
Whether you like them fried in butter or batter, poached in milk or wine, steamed with ginger or chilli, or simply fresh from the shell, a good glass of wine will make our local scallop taste even better.
A Riesling is perfect for scallops simply fried in butter for just 1 to 2 minutes each side. Australian versions are great for those of you that like a drier wine, however I often opt for a German Spätlese (late picked). Their lower alcohol make them ideal for lunch and a hint of sweetness gives hidden depths for matching with Asian style scallops, steamed with fresh ginger and soy. The intense lime flavours, sweet apple fruit, and a zesty, mineral streak, are also a brilliant match for carpaccio (raw) scallops.
So often we think Chardonnay for seafood, but Chenin Blanc is an excellent alternative. Delicious on its own and so versatile. I particularly like Vouvray (Chenin from the Loire) with classic Coquilles St Jacques. It is startlingly fresh, with crisp apples, pear and a hint of rhubarb and wild honey. As with the Riesling, it is the mineral-like freshness and fruity sweetness that helps take scallops to another level.
For a patriotic choice, you cannot beat an English Fizz. Most are made just like Champagne, but when they have a pink tinge they tend to be fruitier and more glugable. Poach the scallops in a little fizz and add a dollop of cream, or just fry until golden in the salty fat of your breakfast bacon and wash down with some local fizz.
Dr Loosen’s Estate Riesling, Mosel, Germany, 2009, Cooden Cellars, (just off The Ridge) £8.50
This zippy Riesling is addictive. At just 8.5%, you can indulge.
Vouvray, demi-sec (off-dry), Domaine de la Pouvraie, 2010, M&S at £8.99
My favourite supermarket Vouvray. Crisp, and delicately fruity.
Carr Taylor Vineyards, Pinot Noir/Pinot Meunier, Rosé Brut Sparkling, 2006, England £19.99
The first commercial sparkling rosé in England and in a word delicious.