Fear not, mussels and scallops can be simple and quick to prepare. Scallops have to be right up there as one of the finest delicacies we have on our shores and although I don’t want to sound preachy, it is quite frightening how bad the scallops can be in some supermarkets.
Curried mussels. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill
The ones I bought for this ceviche were super-fresh and bought from a wholesaler, which I know most people can’t do.
However, for this kind of recipe – where the main ingredient is not cooked, but only gently “cold cooked” in the acid from the lime juice – then I would say don’t even bother with it unless you can commit to the same kind of quality.
If you live near the coast, you should be able to source decent fresh scallops. If you’re in Dublin, a trip out to Howth or Dún Laoghaire, or any small port which sells fish directly, would be ideal. Equally, a small fishmonger will be a good source. But do try to get the freshest as this dish is really about good quality.
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After making this recipe, I thought it would also be lovely with a little spoon of crushed avocado, flavoured with green chillies, salt, pepper and lime juice, left slightly chunky.
Make the ceviche about an hour before you want to eat it, or less. I tried some that had sat in the fridge for about four hours and the acid from the limes had turned the scallops into something chewy and tough. So eat this sooner rather than later.
The curried mussels are so easy to do, and every time I cook mussels at home, I give myself a little nudge that I should be doing it more often as they are a good source of selenium and B12 as well as folate and zinc. They are also cheap and plentiful, so you are unlikely to get into trouble with folks that are rightly concerned with sustainability. We hear so much conflicting advice, but I tend to remind myself when buying or serving delicacies from the ocean – like scallops – they are treats, as they are not infinite in supply.
Mussels, however, are a little more widely available and not under threat, so choose wisely when you can, and splurge by enjoying quality – not quantity – with things like scallops.