Monday, November 15, 2010

Waste of good scallops

I quite like scallops, as long as they're cooked by someone who knows what they're doing. Since I'd never cooked them myself before, I wasn't confident that I could make a decent job of scallops mornay (p118), but I still had to give it a go.

I chose to use frozen scallops, as they were cheaper and easier to find than fresh - and less of a waste if I made a hash of it.  I couldn't count them very easily in the packet, but there were definitely less than the two dozen needed for a full recipe. My guess was about 15.

The full recipe also required two cups of hot mashed potato, and I only had enough potatoes to make a single cup of mash. I decided on a half-mix, figuring that it wouldn't matter too much if I had a few extra scallops in there.

Having put the potatoes on to boil, I made a start on the sauce. It was the usual white sauce (butter, flour, gradually add milk, stirring..) but in this version there was enough milk to make the sauce very runny. I kept stirring, and eventually it thickened up a bit, but was still very thin when I added the scallops.

The scallops cooked in the sauce for about five minutes, at which point I removed them from the heat, stirred through some grated cheese, and poured the mixture into a casserole dish. The potatoes seemed cooked, so I drained them and mashed them, but it seems like they could have done with a couple more minutes to cook - no matter how much I mashed, the potatoes were slightly lumpy.

Trying to spread the potato over the top of the scallop mixture, I was even more convinced that my sauce was too runny. The potato sunk down into it and the sauce oozed over the sides. I finally got the potato reasonably evenly spread, sprinkled on  some grated cheese and paprika, and put the dish under the grill.

A few short minutes later, the scallops mornay was ready to eat. And I wasn't terribly impressed. The sauce was runny and tasteless, and the scallops themselves weren't particularly nice.

A little more attention to seasoning and a slight thickening in the sauce would have improved my scallops mornay, but I can't help thinking that even if you do it right, it really can't be the best way to eat scallops. Why drown something so delicate in a heavy, bland sauce? Then, it's topped with mashed potato, which, no matter how much we all love it, is also a fairly bland accompaniment.

Mornay or otherwise, I can't see myself cooking scallops again in the near future. I'll leave that to the experts: next time I eat a scallop, it'll be because I've chosen it off a menu!

1 comment:

  1. they're one of your father's favourite dishes actually, not sure about the mashed potatoes though never heard of putting them on top.c


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