This simple appetizer combines two tasty ingredients: scallops and duck liver. The chef at the Cercle d'Oc restaurant near Toulouse/France sometimes brought these out to us, during our quite enjoyable Aero Cigar Club wine-dine-smoke evenings. Well, until 2007 that is, when smoking was banned in restaurants and enclosed public places.
Scallops are a particular class of bi-valve ( = 2 shells, joined by a ligament) saltwater mollusks. Mollusks include clams, mussels, scallops, oysters, and their derivatives. Scallops are found in the oceans around the world. Their shells have a characteristic fan-shape. The word "scallop" is also used for the adductor muscle of the shell. It is used to close the shells for protection and for swimming. This muscle is sold as seafood - though in the USA typically (and unfortunately) without the bright orange "coral" attached. "Coral" is the culinary term for the female reproductive organ of the scallop (ovary, female gonad, "roe"). The muscle represents about 15% of the weight of the entire shellfish.
There are three types of "muscle" scallops: sea scallops, bay scallops and calico scallops. Sea scallops are large, about 4 cm (1½ inch) in diameter. There are about 45-65 in a kg (20-30 in a pound). They can be pan seared, much like a filet of beef. Sea scallops are normally wild caught by dredging and stripping the ocean floor of everything, severely damaging the ocean environment. Sometimes other fish (usually shark, skate, or ray) are cut up to look like sea scallops and are sold as such. Obviously never with "coral" attached! As the name suggests, bay scallops grow in bays. They are small, about 1 cm (½ inch) in diameter. Bay scallops are (much) sweeter, less chewy and less expensive than sea scallops. Most bay scallops are farmed in China. The New England region of the US claims to have the best tasting ones. Scallops should be almost translucent and glossy on the outside. The color ranges from pale beige to a creamy pink. It should not be not chalky or yellowing. Bright white scallops suggest the use of chemicals or procedures to enhance color or increase weight.
As stated before, the other major ingredient of this appetizer is duck liver (F: foie gras). In this case not cooked liver but fresh (F: foie gras frais, foie gras cru).
A fresh entire duck liver
- Preparation time: 15 minutes
- Cook/broil time: 20 minutes
- Fresh uncooked/unbaked duck liver
- Large scallops (F: noix St. Jacques, D: Jakobsmuschel - lit. St. James shells)
- Very thinly sliced onion rings
- Olive oil
- French bread "baguette"
EQUIPMENT & SUPPLIES
- Skillet or medium size frying pan
- Bread toaster
PREPARATION / DIRECTIONS
- Cut the bread (on the bias / at an angle, if preferred) into 1-1½ cm thick slices
- Slowly fry the onions in olive oil until soft and translucent (not golden)
- Turn on the top broiler of your oven
- Toast the bread slices until golden on both sides
- Slice the scallops into thin medallions (about 3 mm, 1/8 inch)
- Briefly (10 sec!) heat up the slices in a skillet with a very small amount of olive oil
- Cut the liver into slices that cover the bread slice, and are about 1 cm thick (3/8 inch)
- Put a slice of liver on each slice of bread
- Briefly heat up under the broiler (the liver should not get thin and run off the bread)
- Cover with a tablespoon of the onions
- Cover with 2 slices of scallops
- Briefly heat up under the broiler
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