Pan-fried scallops with crispy pancetta and a pea puree

Pan-fried scallops with crispy pancetta and a pea puree

Scallops are a delicious starter for any dinner party, and they're genuinely easy to cook and prepare. This recipe combines the sweetness of the scallops with the smoky earthiness of crisp pancetta, all counterpointed with the freshness of a pea and mint puree.

Ingredients

Serves four

Preparation

The beauty of this dish is that almost everything can be prepared in advance, leaving just a few minutes of frying and plating up before serving.

Preparing the scallops.

Wash your scallops under the cold tap, and remove any excess pieces of membrane around the meat. Keep the coral (the orange portion) attached to the scallop meat, as this is the sweetest part of the shellfish. Dry the scallops using kitchen roll, and reserve in the fridge until ready to cook.

Preparing the pea puree.

Preparing the pancetta.

Cook the pancetta just prior to cooking the scallops. Take a dry, non-stick frying pan, and warm it through on a medium heat. Add the strips of pancetta (it will cook in its own fats), and allow them to become crispy (but not burned) turning once. When cooked, remove the pancetta to a separate plate, and reserve the fat in the pan.

Cooking the scallops

Scallops cooking

At this stage, you are only a few minutes away from serving, so you will need to set out plates and get ready to plate up the dish.

TOP TIP - if you squeeze the scallop gently with a fork before cooking, you will notice that they are soft and pliable. A perfectly cooked scallop will have just a little give when you squeeze it, and an over-cooked one will barely give at all. So stop cooking when the scallop is opaque the whole way through, with a nice golden colour on both sides, and just a little softness when you squeeze them.

Plating up

To serve, blip the pea puree in a microwave for 30 seconds. Drizzle the puree along the centre of your plate, and immediately place three scallops on top of the puree. Drizzle the scallops with some of the pan juice, and simply lie the crispy pancetta across each of them. Serve immediately.

Photography by Hanno Conring