Saturday, June 25, 2011

Appetizers for the Shore: Scallop and Bacon Skewers

On the menu last Sunday: Scallop & Bacon Skewers, Grilled Shrimp with Thai Sweet Chili dipping sauce
I'm a sucker for appetizers.  I'd rather pick two appetizers in a restaurant than follow the traditional route through a menu.  I like the delicate scale of appetizers on a small plate, the interesting ingredients featured, and their general razzle-dazzle factor.

Appetizers can save the day at the shore. 

You never know just who is going to drop in, or, more to the point, how many (uninvited) friends they may well bring back with them from the beach.  The key to a perfect beach appetizer is that it must be quick to prepare and must use ingredients either that you keep in your freezer, or that you can source from a local store at the drop of a hat.

This bacon and scallop skewer recipe drew gasps from an admiring crowd last Sunday in Stone Harbor: "you shouldn't have gone to so much trouble," said one guest. 

I didn't, believe me - but why tell your friends that..?

Scallops & Bacon Skewers
* 11b uncooked scallops  (I prefer the clean white disk only, i.e. with the orange part removed. Just looked this up and apparently this part of the sea mollusk is the intestinal tract, so let's give this part a miss.)
* 1/2 packet of smoked bacon
* Pam Spray (or my preference) I Can't Believe it's Not Butter spray, which  has a richer taste.
* Seasonings - your choice.  You can use Old Bay or Beck's Devil Dust, in fact, any seasoning intended for shellfish or sea food would work -- just make sure it's got a kick to it. 

Scallops have a great texture if not overcooked, but can be pretty tasteless.  Combining the scallops with smoked bacon makes them jump for joy.  The smoky saltiness of the bacon leaches onto the scallops, suffusing them with a caramelized saltiness. The whole dish is then lifted by the Old Bay.

The recipe is so simple, I can share it in two sentences...

Cut each bacon slice in half, roll, then thread on a skewer, alternating a rolled piece of bacon with a scallop until you fill the skewer.  Spray skewered bacon and scallop then generously dust with your chosen seasoning and cook on a moderate grill until bacon is crispy.  (The scallops and bacon seem to cook at the same time, so it's a failsafe way of telling when the scallops are cooked through)

A shore-fire winner.

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