Seared scallops, Jersey royals, asparagus

This needs little or no comment, other than to say that if you source top class raw materials, the simpler the better in terms of cooking and serving.  In this case, the finest king scallops came from the Company Shed in West Mersea and were accompanied by Jersey Royal potatoes and local asparagus from my nearest farm shop.

The scallops were simply seared on both sides in a heavy cast iron pan, which had been rubbed round with olive oil and heated til smoking.  They cook very quickly and should never be overcooked – just colour on both sides and leave tender and raw in the middle.  They can be cooked with pancetta in the same way, but really scallops do not need rich sauces or anything much – they are delicious as they are.

Possibly worth mentioning the method of cooking asparagus I’ve evolved.  They are great steamed lightly, grilled or even cooked on the BBQ, served with hot butter or hollandaise and a poached egg, but my method is worth a crack.

Start with a frying pan, heat dry, then add the best quality butter you can find.  Snap the woody ends off the asparagus and sauté for a few minutes, seasoning with sea salt and black pepper.  Turn so the sticks are well coated in hot butter.  Add a ladle of warm stock (veg or chicken fine), or even boiling water.  Cook at ferocious temperature until the stock has evaporated off, leaving sauté-steamed asparagus ready for serving.

So there you have it: get the best quality seasonal ingredients, cook them quickly and simply, and enjoy. Perfect!

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