Scallop in its Shell with Jamón
Cucharillas are pintxos served in spoons, often of the Chinese soup spoon variety. If you’re lucky enough to have access to the incredible Taylor Bay scallops farmed on Cape Cod, I recommend using them and portioning three scallops per shell or spoon. Served nearly raw, the sweet scallops make a great match for salty jamón ibérico fat, and the sherry vinegar and the soy lend some acidity to cut through both. Although the use of soy may seem incongruous, Asian ingredients are popular among chefs in the Basque Country, who consider them “muy moderno.”
Recipe from The Basque Book by Alexandra Raij with Eder Montero and Rebecca Flint Marx.
Scallop in its Shell with Jamón Ibérico Fat & Soy-Sherry-Ginger Vinaigrette
- 2 cups kosher salt
- 3 green onions, white and light green parts only, minced
- 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
- 1/4 cup sherry vinegar
- 2 teaspoons light soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 12 scallop shells (ask your fishmonger) or ovenproof Chinese soup spoons
- 12 medium scallops, small outer muscle removed
- 24 very thin (1-inch square) slices jamón ibérico fat, or Italian or Spanish lardo
- 1/2 cup microcilantro, or 1/2 bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped
Preheat the broiler or oven to 500°F. In a bowl, combine the salt with enough water (about 3/4 cup) to create the texture of wet compacted sand.
To make the vinaigrette, in a bowl, stir together the green onions, ginger, vinegar, soy sauce, oil, red pepper flakes, and sugar. Depending on the acidity of your vinegar, you may want to add an additional pinch of sugar. If your soy sauce has made the vinaigrette too salty, stir in a little water, too.
Place 12 small mounds of wet salt (about 1 1/2 teaspoons each) on a baking sheet and balance a scallop shell on top of each mound. (You may have to do this in batches.) Place a scallop in each shell and top with a slice of the jamón fat. Broil or bake until the scallops are warmed through and the fat is transparent, about 1 minute. Repeat as needed with the remaining scallops.
Remove from the broiler and top each scallop with about 1 1/2 teaspoons of the vinaigrette and some microcilantro. If serving the scallops in shells, apply more wet salt to a platter and balance the shells on top. If serving in spoons, forgo the salt and set the spoons directly on the platter. Serve immediately.
Reprinted with permission from The Basque Book by Alexandra Raij with Eder Montero and Rebecca Flint Marx, copyright © 2016, published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.
Photographs copyright © 2016 by Penny De Los Santos.