Picture this: In the mid 80s, Judy Eberspaecher used to buy 100 pounds of fresh-frozen scallops from a friend who frequently travelled from Oakville, Ontario (where she lived) to Digby, Nova Scotia, the scallop capital of the world. Judy dispensed scallops to friends, collected their favourite recipes and vowed that one day she would write a cookbook featuring scallops.
After 20 years of collecting bits of paper in her cupboard, she came close to throwing away her collection of recipes when she happened to mention the idea of a cookbook to her husband. He found a publisher before she changed her mind. “But the dream of a cookbook turned into a scallop nightmare,” Judy says. “The more I researched, the more there was to learn and verify so, when I was offered the chance to spend a few days on a scallop research boat on the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia, I jumped at the chance.”
It turned out to be quite a trip. One day, the crew let her run the gear and in spite of the mess she got into, they didn’t say boo. The author adds, “These people are among the kindest and most patient I have ever met. After trying to do this work, I have a new respect for fishermen and people who travel the seas. This was truly one of the high points of my life, even with all the bruises from being bashed against the equipment!”
Totally Scallops is not just another cookbook — it’s a drop dead gorgeous production. I don’t usually gush about cookbooks but I so love to find a book that pays homage to our primary producers and does it all with style and pizzazz.
The book is also loaded with information about scallops and bits of fun things like: “Legend has it that the goddess Aphrodite arrived on earth on the shell of a scallop. The exact time is somewhat shrouded in the uncertainties of ancient history, but modern scholars believe that it was during the 12th or 13th century BC, about the time of the Trojan War.”
Judy then takes readers on a trip around the world to meet famous chefs who are willing to share their amazing scallop recipes.
No wonder Judy was awarded the Best Fish and Seafood Cookbook in Canada by the prestigious Gourmand International World Cookbook Awards, and, at a gathering in France earlier in March, she placed fourth in the world in the same category!
Enough babble. If you want to order this cookbook, check into Judy’s website (www.eberimage.ca) Meanwhile, here are two tantalizing recipes from her book. If you have a special scallop recipe (or any questions to ask Judy) fire away in the comments box. Would love to hear from you.
Scallops Sautéed with Dulse and Nori (Nova Scotia): Chef Claude AuCoin, Digby Pines Resort
28 large fresh sea scallops
1 ounce (25 g) ground dulse* flakes (available in some supermarkets or health food stores) or toast regular dulse and crumble
3 nori sheets (sushi-type dried seaweed sheets)
½ tsp. freshly ground white pepper
¼ cup (75 ml) olive oil
3-10 inch (25 cm) bamboo skewers that have been soaked overnight in water
In a 350˚F (180˚C) oven, toast the nori on a sheet pan until dry and it turns slightly brown. Grind into small flakes and mix with the dulse flakes. Skewer the scallops, flat sides against each other as tightly as possible, 8 to 10 scallops per skewer. Season lightly with fresh ground white pepper then roll them in the seaweed flakes. Sauté the scallops on high in a preheated pan with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Roll the skewers in the pan to ensure they are evenly cooked all around. It should take about 4 to 5 minutes and the scallops should be cooked only halfway. To serve, remove the scallops from the skewers and serve either whole or cut in half.
*Dulse is an edible red or purple seaweed harvested around the North Atlantic (Canada, Ireland, Iceland.)
Makes 6 to 8 servings.
Coconut Scallops (Caribbean)
1 cup (200 g) sweetened flaked coconut
1 cup (250 ml) boiling-hot water
¼ tsp. cayenne
½ tsp. salt
10 medium sea scallops
½ cup (125 ml) all-purpose flour
1 large egg
½ cup (125 ml) vegetable oil
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C.) In a small bowl stir together coconut and water. Drain coconut in a sieve and pat dry. On a baking sheet spread coconut in one layer and bake in middle of oven until pale golden, about 10 minutes. In a bowl stir together coconut, cayenne, and salt. Remove tough muscle from side of each scallop if necessary. Pat scallops dry and season with salt and pepper. In two separate shallow bowls have flour and lightly beaten egg ready. Dredge scallops in flour, shaking off excess. Dip each scallop in egg, letting excess drip off, and coat well with coconut. In a 10-inch skillet heat oil over moderate heat until hot but not smoking and cook scallops until golden and just cooked through, about 1½ minutes on each side. Drain scallops on paper towels. Serve scallops with lime wedges.
Makes 4 servings.
Totally Scallops book cover by Eberimage
All other photos © Sandra Phinney