As luck would have it, today is National Baked Scallops Day. It’s that day set aside to celebrate all things Scallop. Scallops can be found in all the world’s oceans. They are among the most popular shellfish on the planet; highly prized as a food source. Their preparation vary from place to place.
Scallops are characterized by offering two flavors and textures in one shell. The meat, what we know as the “scallop” is a firm white muscle. The roe, called “coral” is soft and often brightly colored. While both can be eaten, the crescent-shaped coral is often discarded before the scallops are brought to market since it may contain toxins. However; sometimes it is sold still attached to the adductor muscle. Those that eat the coral say it is bitter and cuts the richness of the rest of the scallop.
In Galician cuisine, scallops are baked with breadcrumbs, bits of ham and onions. In Japanese cuisine, scallops are often served in soup or prepared as a sushi. In China, scallops are used with other shellfish and in Cantonese China they are dried.
The scallop shell is the traditional emblem of Saint James the Great and its symbol is found throughout the Way of Saint James. Medieval Christians are said to have collected a scallop shell while at Copostela as evidence of having made the pilgrimage. The association of Saint James with the scallop is believed to be traced to the legend that the apostle once rescued a knight covered in scallops. Another association is that while on the Way of Saint James, pilgrims carry a shell. The shell is used to collect water to drink, and as they pass from small hamlet to small hamlet, people give them food, but only enough to fill their shell. Today scallop shells are painted on markers so people making the journey won’t lose their way.
These simple baked scallops are perfect for delicate yet unpretentious Lenten Supper.
Simple Oven Baked Scallops
1/2 cup Butter, melted
1 sleeve Ritz Crackers crushed
1 lb. Fresh Sea Scallops, cleaned
Herbs as desired for garnish
Note: Finely minced parsley or chives or a combination of both are a nice finishing touch to these oven baked scallops.
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Melt butter, pour into a casserole dish, set aside.
Place crackers in a food processor fitted with a blade. Pulse crackers until crushed to a fine flour. Set aside.
Clean scallops, pat dry. Place scallops in the casserole dish, turning to coat in the melted butter.
Arrange in the dish evenly spaced apart. Sprinkle tops of scallops with crushed crackers.
Place in the heated oven. Bake until butter is sizzling, scallops are cooked through and firm with the tops just beginning to brown, about 20 minutes.
Transfer to a platter. Drizzle with butter and garnish with minced herbs such as parsley or chives.
Serve with an arugula salad, warm bread and chilled wine for a simple, light supper.