Summer means one thing on Florida’s Big Bend—recreational scallop season. The general madness that comes with crowded marinas, boat ramps and waterways from Bayport to St. Marks bothers lots of folks, but I’ve learned to take all of that in stride and to focus on the dinner table.
Snorkeling for scallops is lots of fun, but coming home tired and waterlogged never puts me in the mood to cook. Luckily, shucked scallops fare well in the freezer for a few weeks, so tucking a few limits away isn’t a bad idea. Bite for tender bite, there’s no product of the Gulf tastier than a freshly shucked sea scallop. And while the adductor muscles are great raw, right out of the shell, most folks would rather have them cooked.
My traditional “down home” method of scallop preparation involves a light dusting of flour and frying in butter. But here’s a simple upscale recipe for scallops in a spicy tomato sauce with pasta that’s more fit for a hot date than a hot night at the fish camp. FS
Scallops Fra Diavolo
4 tbsp. olive oil
6 cloves fresh garlic, crushed
1 28-ounce can crushed San Marzano tomatoes
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. sugar
Crushed red pepper flakes,
the “devil’s touch”
1 pound (product of a 2-gallon personal limit) scallops, shucked and patted dry with paper towels
1 pound linguine or fettuccine pasta
Chopped Italian parsley or basil (as garnish)
In a large saucepan, heat two tablespoons of the olive oil and add the garlic. When the garlic begins to sizzle, add the tomatoes. Add the salt and sugar and bring to a boil. Finally, add the crushed red pepper. Start with a teaspoon, but depending on your tolerance for heat, more may be required. Then simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
While the sauce is simmering, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and then cook the pasta for 8 to 10 minutes. Don’t overcook the pasta, draining it to a colander when it’s still slightly chewy, or al dente.
When you add the pasta to the water, heat the remaining oil over high heat in a skillet and sear the scallops, taking care not to overcook them (into the consistency of rubber pencil erasers). One or two minutes should do the trick. Add the scallops to the sauce and simmer another minute or two.
Spoon the sauce over the pasta and garnish with parsley or basil. Serve with a chunk of crusty bread and a nice beverage. (Serves 4)
First published Florida Sportsman July 2014