Let’s start with this is not the post I intended to write. What I really wanted to write was a post about were Crawdads (aka crawfish). The truth of the matter is, I’ve never cooked crawdads. I’ve never even eaten crawdads despite the fact that there is a large festival in the delta every year on Father’s Day weekend. I’ve taken my guys there, wandered about looking at all the buckets of crawdads, but even with someone else doing the cooking, could not bring myself to eat something that requires you to suck out its head. So why the obsession with crawdads?
For one thing, I wanted to get over this inability to eat a crawdad. The pictures on the sides of all the food trucks look awesome – like little lobsters and I do love lobsters. The sights and sounds and smells at the annual festival are interesting and intriguing. And the memories revolving around crawdads are near and dear to my heart. I so wanted to share that memory, and a recipe all woven together in a beautiful package with a lovely little bow. I wanted this post to be heartwarming. It was all planned out in my head – well most of it worked out in my head. I had the childhood memory. What were lacking was a recipe and the experience of actually eating crawdads. Yet I wanted this post to be about crawdads, dammit!
Okay then, I’ve had my little tantrum. Now we compromise. I’ll tell you why crawdads are dear to my heart and you will know why my story has absolutely nothing to do with my recipe. I know we’ve all become “friends” here and you will understand. Or at least bear with me as I ramble just a bit.
Growing up, we lived near a large, undeveloped plot of land (long since covered over with sprawling subdivisions and shopping complexes and all sorts of things). Back in the day, there were horses grazing and barns and trails that led to all sorts of adventures. In the summer, Brother Dear and I rode our bikes out to the fields nearly every morning, heading to our favorite secret place. The surrounding grasses were tall and unless you knew which way to go, you might very well ride your bike passed it and never even know it was there if it weren’t for the smells and the sounds. It was a large pasture pond. It smelled as pasture ponds often do. And as for the sound – frogs make a very loud sound – especially the big, fat bullfrogs with their throaty “croak”. That particular summer, we hadn’t come for the frogs. We were there for a much more interesting “catch” – the crawdads. Fishing for crawdads was dangerous. For one thing, they had claws. But it wasn’t their claws that posed the greatest threat. In order to “catch” crawdads, you needed to draw them out and snag them with a net. This involved some creativity. Our net was made using a wire hanger and a nylon stalking (with the hope Mom would not miss a pair). The bait needed to be special – trial and error taught us that raw bacon worked best. And crawdads need to find something of interest to catch their eye, washers from Dad’s tool box for weights tied to the end of a long fishing line from his tackle box did the trick. For those of you wondering why not use a fishing net – crawdads can escape from a fishing net, but once scooped up in a nylon stalking stretched over a wire hanger, they were trapped. As for metal washers rather than led weights, crawdads liked the way the morning sun light reflected on washers dangling in the murky water. And they liked bacon better than worms. It wasn’t until Dad need a washer from his tool box and Mom had no more nylons for Church and all the bacon was missing from the fridge did our morning rides come under fire. It took a while to get “caught” taking things that did not belong to us, but eventually we were caught. And so ended our adventure fishing for crawdads. We moved on to frogs, but that’s a tale for another day.
Okay, thanks for listening. Now we can get down to the business of cooking . . .
Portuguese Scallops over Rice
2 cups cooked rice
1 1/2 pounds sea scallops
Fresh ground Himalayan Pink salt to taste (a pinch or so)
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil split
1/3 cup port wine
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about half a lemon)
Fresh chopped Italian (flat) parsley, about 1/4 cup, divided
5 garlic cloves, minced
Steam rice. While rice is steaming, prepare all other ingredients. Set aside until ready to use.
Season scallops with Himalayan salt and pepper. Heat 1/2 tablespoon oil in a 10-inch cast-iron or heavy skillet over high heat until very hot (about 3 minutes). Add half of scallops; cook 3-4 minutes on each side or until browned.
Remove scallops from pan; keep warm. Repeat procedure with remaining oil and scallops.
Stir in port wine and lemon juice, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Return scallops to pan. Add about half of parsley, and garlic; saute 30 seconds over high heat.
Serve scallops over rice. Garnish with remaining parsley and lemon slices.
Serve and enjoy!