Sea Scallop Lollipops with Spiced Olives

One of the culinary joys of life in my southeastern Massachusetts home is the Atlantic sea scallop. Our major port, New Bedford, rules the waves when it comes to fishing these delectable bivalves. A shopping trip to one of New Bedford’s many Portuguese groceries inspired these simple appetizers, which are, of course, no more than a reworking of the old scallops-wrapped-in-bacon standby. The difference with these is that, because both presunto (Portuguese air-cured ham) and super-fresh scallops are so delicious raw, there’s no need to overcook the poor shellfish—just a blazing hot quick sear to crisp up the edges and take the chill off. You’ll need a pile of bamboo skewers, and you may substitute prosciutto for presunto.

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Sea Scallop Lollipops with Spiced Olives

  • 2 pounds very large, super-fresh sea scallops
  • 1 pound presunto or prosciutto, sliced extremely thinly

Optional spiced olive accompaniment:

  • 8 ounces mixed tasty olives
  • 1 small dry hot chile
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 3 cloves garlic, lightly crushed
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • A few sprigs parsley, minced
  • Few slices lemon

Serves a gathering of 10 or 12, but not for long!

1. Up to three hours ahead, prep the lollipops. Lay out a slice of presunto flat. Set a single scallop at one end on edge, and roll it up like a wheel in the presunto. Fasten through with a skewer, lollipop-wise. Continue with the rest, and stack them all carefully in an airtight tub. Keep chilled until cooking time.

2. You may make the optional accompaniment 4 hours to 2 days ahead. Drain the olives of their brine and put in a jar. Heat a small griddle or cast-iron pan over a medium flame. Toss in the dry chile, cumin seeds, and peppercorns. Toast for about 30 seconds or until aromatic—do not scorch. Add to olives, along with garlic and olive oil. Close the jar and shake it to coat the olives with the flavorings. Chill until needed.

3. When you’re ready to serve, put the olives in a serving bowl, and toss in the parsley. Wring in the lemon slices, and then toss the rinds in, too. Give it a stir.

4. Set up a griddle over a wood fire or on a stove top and get it pretty hot.

5. Line up the lollipops, one flat side down, on the griddle. Cook until some surfaces are golden brown and crispy, then flip. When the second side is done, serve on a heated platter. Your admonishments about mouth-burning will go unheeded by your guests!

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Excerpted from Cooking with Fire © Paula Marcoux.
Photography © Keller + Keller.
Used with permission of Storey Publishing.

Paula Marcoux is a Plymouth-based food historian and the author of Cooking with Fire. She writes for popular and academic audiences; consults with museums, film producers, and publishers; and gives workshops on natural leavening, historic baking, and wood-fired cooking.

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