Gratin scallops with mushrooms
Prep time 15 mins
Cook 15 mins
makes 10 cicchetti
"SCALLOPS SERVED in some kind of gratin is a classic, and these are perfect to serve as cicchetti – I mean, they even come with their own plates!," says Emiko Davies. "This combination of mushroom and scallop is heavenly, and it is always received with much oohing and ahhing. Much like the squid with peas, where seafood is paired with a vegetable, there is some kind of magic that happens to the flavours – where here, the mushrooms soak up the liquid like sponges."
1–2 tablespoons olive oil
80 g (2 ¾ oz/4 tablespoons) butter
2 tablespoons plain (all-purpose) flour
250 ml (8 ½ fl oz/1 cup) full-cream (whole) milk
150 g (5 ½ oz/1 2/3 cup) mushrooms (see Variations)
juice of 1 lemon
a few sprigs of parsley leaves, finely chopped
15 g (½ oz/5 teaspoons) dry breadcrumb
1. Clean the scallops, cut them off the shell if needed (reserving the shells), give them a quick rinse and pat dry. Sear them in a very hot pan with the oil for 1 minute on each side, or until they develop a golden-brown crust but are still bouncy and tender. Chop them roughly and set aside.
2. Make a béchamel by melting half of the butter in a small saucepan with the fl our over a low heat. It should become like a thick, smooth paste. Slowly add the milk and keep stirring until the béchamel becomes thick, like custard. Add salt to taste then set aside.
3. Finely slice or chop the mushrooms and cook them in a pan with the rest of the butter for 3–5 minutes, or until they are cooked through and soft. At the last minute, squeeze over some lemon juice and sprinkle over the parsley.
4. Combine the scallops, béchamel and mushrooms – taste and, if needed, adjust for seasoning – and spoon this mixture back into the scallop shells. Sprinkle about ½ teaspoon of breadcrumbs over each and bake them for 10–15 minutes, or until they are bubbling and the tops are golden.
VARIATIONS "I use chiodini (honey fungus), but regular button mushrooms work well too. You could also leave out the mushrooms and simply cook these with the scallops and béchamel."
This is an edited extract from Cinnamon & Salt by Emiko Davies, published by Hardie Grant Books, RRP $40. Available in stores nationally.
Photography: ©Emiko Davies