Grilled Scallops with Pickled Melon
Photographs by Sarah Elliott
Last week I was slapped in the face by my love of cooking as I feel deep in the rhythm of doing what I do. That’s sounds rather abrupt, but it was honestly how I felt. These past six months I have been consumed by the rather dreamy but also ridiculously intense process of developing recipes for my cookbook. And while every time I cook, I am abundantly aware of how connected I feel, I will share that recipe development is a different kind of cooking. I am an intuitive cook. I throw caution to the wind with a little bit of this and a whole lotta that, riffing with flavors and feeling and tasting as I go, rather than measuring precisely. Don’t get me wrong, I am always acutely aware of how fortunate I am to be doing what I love and putting it forth in a (pinch me, please!) cookbook – it is a dream come true. But truth be told, this style of cooking is without doubt more rigid than how I normally approach food.
Anyway, last week I found myself at Stuarts, my local fish market in Amagansett, when day boat scallops came in, just off the docks. I don’t really make scallops all too often at home but figured, why not! I snatched them up with absolutely no idea of how I would prepare them. Once home, I foraged within the fridge to find some honeydew melon, a single Kirby cucumber, a jalapeño, and a knob of ginger. With this, I began to play and fell down the swoony rabbit hole of creation. I was chopping and slicing, nibbling and adjusting as I went. Reggae was blasting from the speakers as the sun was streaming in and I found myself lost in the ritualistic joys of summer cooking. Waiting for the grill to heat, I quickly picked some shallots and thought, hmmmmm…lemme throw some melon into the pickling liquid. I drizzled those gleaming-white suckers with olive oil, salt and pepper and placed them on a smoking-hot grill to achieve those swoony char marks. When I took them off, I topped them with this unusual yet delicious relish of ginger, jalapeño, and the duo of pickled elements – my honeydew and shallots. The finishing touch was a heap of the most delicate red shiso microgreens, which honestly took the whole dish into swoon-status. Its herbaceous flavors are closely related to the mint family, and it is often used in Asian cuisine. I love that you cannot really place the herb. It is citrusy with a hint of mint – or is that basil, or cilantro? I told you, hard to pinpoint. Anyway, it is rather delish and perfectly pairs with the sting of the ginger and jalapeno, but also balances the pickled and sweet elements in the relish. Good times in the EyeSwoon kitchen!