I live in East Sussex, about half an hour’s drive from the coastal town of Hastings. A little farther along the coast is the Historic port of Rye with it’s quaint little town full of independent shops and businesses. Although it is located two miles inland on the confluence of the rivers Rother, Tillingham and Brede, it is a thriving fishing port.
For the last seventeen years Rye has held a Scallop Festival in February - this year it was between 23rd Feb and 3rd March. Rye Bay is full of scallops from November to mid April and the festival supports a major industry in a local community. During these months the fishing fleet of small RX registered boats adhere to local bye laws restricting the fishing of the scallop. There are also limits to the size of the catch with the smaller ones left to mature. All of these factors ensure that stocks are sustainably maintained.
The Scallop is a species of marine bivalve mollusk. There are over 300 species worldwide and it is the only bivalve that can swim. It is fully mature at three years old and the age is indicated by the number of ridges on the shell. It is characterized by having two flavours and textures within the same shell: the roe or coral which is soft with a reddish orange colour and the meat which is firm and white. Scallops contains many nutrients that benefit our health, particularly our heart health. They are an excellent source of Vitamin B12, calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium. They are also almost 80% protein and are low in calories.
I ventured down to Rye on Saturday morning to buy my scallops from Rye Bay Fish, and award winning family business with over 25 years in the fishing industry. They are located at the end of the port and specialize in local day boat fresh fish landed from the boats directly behind their shop.
I grew up in Lancashire, the home of the best Black Pudding in the country, if not the world! Along with apple, black pudding and scallops go so well together so my recipe needed to contain these ingredients. I found what I was looking for on the website dedicated to the Scallop Festival: http://scallop.org.uk/
Seared Scallops with Caramelized Apple, Black Pudding and Cider Sauce
The recipe is by the chef Paul Webbe of Webbe’s at The Fish Cafe in Rye.
I sourced Black Pudding from my local Waitrose and also used their excellent Vintage Cider for the sauce. I felt like I was a contestant on Masterchef when I was cooking this - the first time I have cooked Scallops. All I could think of was that they should not be overcooked. To say they tasted amazing is an understatement - I was pretty pleased with myself.
Although we had this for dinner on Saturday evening, I waited until the following day to photograph it - I find it is helpful with a dish such as this to know beforehand how it is going to plate. I had a clear idea of how I wanted the finished dish to look - I wanted restaurant style and quality which I achieved with softly diffused natural light to the right and a large reflector to the left to bounce the light back onto the dish and soften the shadows, A shallow depth of field put the food in sharp focus with everything else softly blurred in the background. White tableware and a charcoal linen napkin complemented it all perfectly.
The overhead shot below was slightly more tricky as I could not avoid the pool of highlight at the base of the shell but I don’t think it detracts too much from the image.
This was an enjoyable post - using a locally sourced ingredient which is in season and supporting local businesses too is extremely worthwhile. I also know I can cook scallops well!
So here we are already into March.
Until next week.