You might be a vegetarian if…
Updated: Apr 23
…if you see this and don’t immediately think, “yum.”
That’s right guys, fresh scallops. I’m a veggie, but have no problems cooking meat for people who enjoy it. I like cooking, anything, so I can make a mean steak, a lovely turkey, and some delicious chicken parm (or so I hear, the people eating could just be nice). But I draw the line at this.
I had to shank a scallop, guys. After prying open the shell, you scrap him off his shell, scoop him out and then proceed to rip off the outer edge of this scallop’s body, leaving the meat that people eat. Knowing I wasn’t going to eat this and unsure who was going to eat it, I wasn’t pumped about it, but I’m a chef, so I went for it. I did ok at the start; the scallops clearly don’t like to be shanked, so they put a bit of a fight. But I got my 7 scallops out of their shells. With my chef’s assurance that they were dead by then, I started to take off their edges. I got through about 3 when, as I was holding it and pulling off the edges (or eyes…), the little guy pulsed.
I’m not accustomed to food moving as you are prepping it. I might have yelped, thrown my scallop, and backed off at that point. Maybe. That is an unconfirmed report. But seeing as we have a great traiteur chef, I suddenly had all 7 scallops cleaned and ready for the next step, as well as a chef who couldn’t stop laughing at me. Phew. Seeing as my friend in class and myself are both vegetarians, we were put on mirepoix duty after that while everyone else prepped more seafood. Believe me, I can de-shell cooked shrimp, take off the beard off of a mussel and, even on occasion, take lobster and crabs out of their shells for others to eat, but I was real glad all I had to do for a bit was chop some leeks and onions.
We were making a version of Coquilles St Jacques, so after prepping the scallops, we made pike quenelles (filet of pike, milk, flour, and eggs, blended together and then formed into ovals)…
…and a fish veloutee sauce (fish stock with shallots, white wine, water, butter, leeks, and the stuff we ripped off the scallops, then combine with juice of the mushrooms and mussels we cooked, milk, flour, butter, heavy cream, and salt and pepper to taste).
Once all of this was prepped and prepared, we starting to put the St Jacques back together.
Starting with a mussel and some salmon, you place the scallop in the center, surrounded with some shrimp and the pike quenelle. Add some of the mushrooms on top and you have the base of the meal.
Then you layer on the sauce, filling all gaps.
Pop it in the freezer for a couple of minutes, then add another layer of sauce. You want it to be very full. Another trip to the freezer, then you add a crust of bread crumbs and a slice of puff pastry, if you so please. I skipped the puff pastry, but liberally added the bread crumbs.
From here, the customer (or whoever eats this) takes it home and pops it in the oven to warm it up and toast the edges. Then its ready to eat! Me, I was still fearful of the pulsing scallop, so I skipped taking any home. From what I hear though, they came out really well and were a class favorite!