Alice Waters was probably right when she said that a piece of fruit is only perfect for a matter of moments and that it’s the responsibility of the supply chain to get it to the table at the perfect...
Alice Waters was probably right when she said that a piece of fruit is only perfect for a matter of moments and that it’s the responsibility of the supply chain to get it to the table at the perfect time. Chef Sean Brock has my utmost respect for obsessing about the amount of time it takes a carrot to get from the dirt it’s grown in to the plate it’s consumed from. In Nova Scotia it’s not just big culinary names that share these sentiments. To quote a Nova Scotian on freshness would be far less whimsical than Alice Waters, but it would share the function of Sean Brock’s approach to quality.
I’ll set the scene, two Nova Scotians walk into a casual restaurant or diner in the middle of whatever province or state in any country of your choice, but the important thing is salt water lies no closer than a day’s trip in any direction (unless it’s in a glass as a cure for a sore throat). On the menu you’ll find a pulled pork sandwich, a burger or even a steak served with house made onion rings.Chicken wings and mozzarella sticks with ranch dressing grace the snacks section. But here comes the blasphemy, “Fresh battered fish and chips” or “Fresh bacon wrapped scallops.” Everything is normal until the table next to our well intentioned travellers orders “on the wild side” and goes for some “fresh” seafood. Confusion sets in as the characters of our story ask the server how to get to the beach and wonder where the heck the locals are hiding the ocean if there’s such a bounty of fresh seafood out here in this desert.
Albeit “frozen at sea” and same day air delivery from Nova Scotia to Vancouver have changed the landscape of freshness in the food world as a whole. Quality, even terroir can be sustained through hundreds of kilometres of travel or even a couple months of being frozen. We even expose ourselves to frozen and well traveled items at Rime when availability becomes an issue close to home. But I think that most Maritimers will agree that “fresh” is a term to be used to describe ocean bounty only when in fact the ocean is in plain view of the consumer or at least as they say around here, a hop, skip and just a short jump away.
- 350 to 400 grams/ Dry pasta
- 1 Pound/ Fresh Scallops
- 20 to 25/ Cherry Tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon/ Minced Garlic
- ½ teaspoon/ Minced Chilies
- 1 to 2 Sprigs/ Fresh Basil
- 1 Tablespoon/ Chopped Chives
- 2 Fluid Ounces/ Brandy
- 4 Fluid ounces Olive Oil
- Salt and pepper
Use 130 grams per person if you have fresh pasta. You can substitute white wine in the place of brandy. Remember to reserve at least 5 ounces of the pasta blanching water to make your sauce.
- Start by boiling your pasta, follow the directions on the package, just make sure to drain it right before it becomes al dente as you’ll be finishing the pasta in the pan.
- When the pasta is par cooked and resting near-by, sear the scallops on one side only and reserve them.
- Put ½ your olive oil in the pan with the cherry tomatoes, when the tomatoes start to sizzle add the garlic and chilies. Remove from heat and deglaze with brandy.
- Add 3 ounces pasta cooking liquid and then the pasta, bring the mixture to a boil stirring continuously. The whole thing should become naturally creamy as the pasta finishes cooking and the starch is released. Add more liquid if necessary to reach your desired consistency ( sauciness ).
- When the pasta is fully cooked add the scallops back in and drizzle the rest of the olive oil stirring and tossing continuously.
- Finish the pasta with chopped chives and torn basil.
- Don’t forget to check the seasoning and adjust with fresh cracked pepper and sea salt.
The first thing we cooked in the Rime kitchen was scallop pasta, like in this blog, a stalwart in freshness and quality with an Italian or Mediterranean approach to accoutrements. We picked them up at Adams and Knickle on Montague Street in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. On a scallop day, there could be a line up out the door as everybody knows that these could be the freshest scallops to be had anywhere. Thus, the simple approach to seasoning this dish subtly and helping the main ingredient make the big splash on your taste buds.
I hope you enjoy this dish and that if you don`t live a hop, skip or even a jump from the ocean, that you find yourself in such a position at some point in the future to enjoy this scallop pasta. And even if it’s not scallops that are available or in season, that you find any mollusc, bivalve or crustacean to indulge and that when you try the pasta in this recipe whatever the seafood used, your experience is as authentic as a burger at Stampede Week or a sausage during Oktoberfest.