The Plump and Delectable Lion's Paw scallops are the largest in the sea. — by Tom Gatch
Fresh, succulent sea scallops are one of the most popular types of shellfish on the planet.
They come in all sizes; from the small bay scallops that live in placid warm water lagoons, to the popular diver’s scallops that are hand harvested from the crisp waters of a more northerly sea, and appear on the menus of seafood restaurants and fine dining establishments.
Less common but equally delicious are the giant Lion’s Paw scallops, the meat from which can weigh over 2 ounces each after being removed from the shell.
The large bivalves live at depths of up to 100 feet or more, and are most commonly found just off of rocky coastlines. Particularly along the Pacific coasts of central California and Baja.
Because of their high market demand they have become less prevalent in the wild over the years, however recent aquaculture production has helped greatly in contributing to their commercial availability.
The flesh of the Lion’s Paw scallop is exquisitely sweet and tender, and can either be cooked or eaten raw with a squeeze of fresh lime.
Here is a delightful recipe that offers a special Mediterranean touch, which perfectly matches the climate and topography where these highly prized Mollusks are found.
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 6 tablespoons butter 2 bulbs fresh fennel, diced small 2 leeks, sliced and cleaned 2 ribs celery, minced 2 shallots, minced 5 cloves garlic, minced ½ cup dry white wine 2 cups heavy cream 6 golden fingerling potatoes 24 fresh Oregon Blue Lake green beans, cleaned 12 large Mexican ‘Lion’s paw’ scallops (or substitute restaurant-size ‘Diver’s Scallops) 8 grape tomatoes Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Sauté the fennel, leeks, and celery in 2 tablespoons olive oil and 4 tablespoons butter over medium high heat. When tender, add the shallot and garlic and cook for 1 minute. Deglaze the mixture with the wine and reduce by half. Add the cream, bring to a simmer, and reduce to thicken slightly. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Reserve.
Set up an ice bath. Peel the potatoes and quarter lengthwise. Remove the ends of the beans. Blanch both the green beans and the potatoes for 1 minute in a pot of hot water, then remove and shock in the ice bath. Reserve.
Heat a large sauté pan with the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Season the scallops with salt and pepper and cook on the first side for 2-3 minutes, until golden brown, and cooked about 1/3 of the way through. Turn scallops and reduce heat to let them finish cooking. In a separate sauté pan, heat the potatoes and the green beans in the remaining butter.
Place ragout in the center of each plate. Stack the potatoes and place the green beans in the center. Lay the scallops around potatoes and garnish with pear tomato and a little extra virgin olive oil.
This dish pairs beautifully with a crisp Chenin Blanc or Pinot Grigio.