Beachcomber's breakfast

By Janice Light


Luxury breakfast with scallopsFrom time to time an early morning foray onto a gravelly shore during low water spring tides yields a welcome bonus in the guise of one or two large Pecten maximus (King scallop) or Aequipecten opercularis (Queen scallop): stragglers from populations offshore, which have been abandoned by the receding tide. Take the scallop(s) home with the rest of the morning’s samples, but keeping them cool and in a separate container in transit.

For a princely breakfast you will need the following:
      1 or 2 king/queen scallops
      1–2 tablespoons of bacon lardons
      2 slices of black pudding (optional!)
      1 lemon or lime

First scrub the scallops in a bowl of water to remove all the motile organisms, epifauna and associated sediment. Use a knife to scrape off barnacles, worm tubes etc. Set this bowl of water and scrapings aside, do not discard! Use it later to identify the small molluscs and send me the records, as Marine Recorder!

To continue with the recipe...

Prise open the scallop by inserting a knife between the valves; ideally when the scallop snaps open so you can detach the adductor muscle from the shell interior of the flat left valve. Once one side of the muscle is detached the shell will gape open and you can detach the meat from the other convex valve using a spoon on the curved surface.

Using scissors snip away the black digestive gland, the gills and the mantle edge (frill). If the scallop is very large, halve the muscle but keep the coral (gonad) intact. Now chase the bacon pieces around a pan until the fat runs and the bacon is slightly crisp. Fry the black pudding (if used) quickly to crisp both sides, until cooked. Keep on a warm plate. Turn the pan up high, add a bit of oil if needed and sear the scallop(s), sealing on each side and cooking long enough to heat the scallops through but not so long that the meat toughens. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon (lime) over the scallops and season with some salt and pepper to taste. Sizzle for 15 seconds more. Add the scallops to the plate, squeeze more juice over and garnish with a couple of sprigs of parsley. Enjoy. A slice of Irish soda bread makes a nice accompaniment.

Now make a pot of tea or coffee. Set up your microscope. Pass the bowl of scallop shell scrapings over a fine sieve, ideally a 0.3mm mesh but certainly no coarser than 0.5mm, then sort the sample and record the associated fauna. Please send me the records!