Can you imagine buying an oyster out of its shell?

The laws in Ireland surrounding scallops must take the biscuit

Could scallops in the shell soon be on sale in Ireland? Photograph: iStock

Could scallops in the shell soon be on sale in Ireland? Photograph: iStock

 

I hear through the grapevine that scallops in the shell will soon be on sale in Ireland, but perhaps it’s just hearsay. Of all the laws we have that govern food in this country, the ones surrounding scallops must take the biscuit. Not only is it illegal to hand dive for scallops in Ireland, but it is also illegal to sell them in the shell. Can you imagine buying an oyster out of its shell?

I wrote about this issue a number of years ago in this column and am still none the wiser. Why is it only in Ireland this applies? Are we not European? It seems everyone points the finger at someone else (I mean the fishermen, health officials and shellfish inspectors). Would it be too much to sit down together and sort it out, once and for all?

I say all this because I’m just back from launching a new scallop festival in Connemara, which takes place near Carna on October 4th-6th. For the launch, I shucked scallops and cooked them with a blow torch, lightly oiling them beforehand. Scallops need so little cooking. It is an awful shame to overcook them as they just turn to rubber. Is this why many of us don’t like shellfish? When will we stop cooking fish as if it is meat?

How to cook scallops

Another nice way to cook scallops is to combine them with mushrooms, particularly yellow chanterelles (which are in season now). It can all be done in the one pan. Heat a pan with a little oil. Remove the roe and season the scallop with sea salt. Place the scallops into the frying pan and allow one side to caramelise. Don’t rush this part and keep your heat medium.

When you’re happy with the colour, add the mushrooms, a little butter and some thyme. When the butter foams, flip the scallops (not before) and baste for a moment, before removing from the heat. You want only one side of your scallop to be crisp. To finish, garnish with some greens, such as rocket.

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