Mrs Ribeye loves scallops. She didn't used to love scallops, but now she does.
Last year, I made the wife some delicious seared scallops, to which she replied: 'Why are you serving me eye-balls?' Not a good day. However, at a dinner party given by our friend Axel at Beach Blanket Babylon in Notting Hill last weekend, she ordered scallops again and found that she actually loved eye-balls after all. So so fickle.
Ok Ok, maybe last time I hadn't cooked them to her Holy Magisterial Regalness' highest standards, but all of a sudden she started to obsess about them. 'When are you making scallops again?' 'Why aren't we having scallops tonight?' 'It's my birthday next week. Can we have scallops?' 'It's Thursday - scallop day!' etc.
So, because today is my wife's twenty-seventh birthday (27? Eek! What an oldie), her wish is my desire and I managed to convince my local eye-ball merchant to set me aside a few plumptious specimens.
Ok Ok, maybe I learnt from my mistakes and Ok Ok, maybe I have now learnt to get the pan hot enough to allow the scallops to slightly caramelise, but this time there was no eye-ball comment; there was just a look of delight on my crusty old (mmm, still a decade-and-a-half younger than me) bird's face. Happy birthday indeed.
To pair up the scallywags, I decided to make a butternut squash mash - because it's easy; pairs up well with the sweet seafood; and is cheap to make - in line with my Potless budget.
Dare I say it? Yes I dare: My dish is better than Beach Blanket Babylon's. Not to say that BBB's isn't nice, but their scallops are a bit... eye-bally (joke). No, actually, their dish came with truffle oil, which I reckon is a bit musky for such sweet shellfish as scallops, and mine came with a balsamic-dressed salad which has more contrasting rich sourness than their (fairly nice, in all honesty) fried carrot garnish.
Oh, and mine's better because BBB's dish is £25, whereas mine comes in at £3 per serving - because I got my scallops for £15 per kilo. Not that I particularly cared last week, because Axel picked up the bill. But still.
1 small butternut squash, halved and de-seeded
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon of Chinese five spice powder
Salt and pepper
250g shelled scallops (just the white meats, not corals)
2 tablespoons sunflower or olive oil
2 handfuls of mixed leaves
2 tablespoons of walnut or olive oil
1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
Walnut pieces, to garnish (optional)
Rub the exposed flesh of the squash with the olive oil, five spice and seasoning and roast at 200c for an hour. In the meantime, rub the scallops with sunflower oil and black pepper. In a pan blisteringly hot pan, sear the scallops for 1-2 minutes on each side and then remove from pan to relax. Dress the salad leaves with the walnut oil and vinegar and place a mound on each serving plate. Remove the squash from the oven and mash the flesh, discarding the skin. Dot a small pile of squash in equal spaces around the salad leaves and top each with a scallop. Season to taste and garnish with walnuts, if using.