My apartment in New York–what I’ll call home for the next two months–has a view of the Hudson from the bedroom window. All day, I’ve watched the boats hum along the water. Maybe that’s what got me in the mood for seafood. I walked to Chinatown to browse the fish stalls guarded by scowling men in bloodied white aprons and purchased a fourth of a pound of scallops–a modest purchase that came to $2.50. Next, I walked to Whole Foods for bacon, smoked and uncured. What can be more classic (and more easy to make) than bacon wrapped scallops?
The scallops were run under cold water, then patted dry and wrapped in one bacon strip each. The wrapping proved a bit more difficult than I imagined, as the bits of bacon kept tearing off. Note to self: perhaps thick bacon would work better next time. The scallops were sprinkled with a bit of fresh ground pepper, then put in the oven for 12 minutes at 350 degrees. They came out sizzling in a watery white sauce, smelling delicious. I sprinkled a bit of sea salt on each, then commenced my little sea-faring feast.
The result, however, was disappointing. This is the problem with bacon wrapped scallops: first, when you cut through it, the bacon separates from the scallop meat. You end up having to chase bits of bacon and scallop around the plate and spear the two together with a fork. Next, the taste of the bacon just completely overwhelms the scallop. The bacon is smoky and salty and heavy, with a bit of chew to it, while the scallop is sweet and light and tender. The two simply didn’t seem to go together very well. The delicate, tender texture of the scallop was completely overtaken by the unapologetically tough consistency of bacon. Both in taste and texture, the two ingredients simply clashed. I don’t ever remember feeling this way when eating the dish in restaurants. I’ll definitely need to figure out what I’m doing wrong. The bacon, I think, needs to be thinner and easier to cut through. Perhaps almost to a prosciutto-thinness. This will make it harder to wrap, of course, but thick bacon will do nothing but overwhelm the scallop. But maybe the lesson here is that bacon and scallops just aren’t meant to be. It’s delicious because there’s bacon in it–the scallops are an afterthought. That just simply isn’t how scallops should be treated. Tomorrow, I’m going to try pan seared scallops with an herb butter sauce to see if that complements the natural flavor of the scallops better.