Scallops with cucumber and wild fennel
Always try to buy live scallops in the shell, as a lot of the scallops you see ready-shucked on fish counters tend to be washed to death and have very little flavour or texture left to them. I’ve used wild fennel here, which can be gathered easily around the coast and gives a great fresh flavour with the cucumber. I like to keep the frills, which are the gills/filters around the flesh of the scallop, and serve them as a snack. Wash them well, simmer in lightly salted water for five minutes and drain them, before milking and flouring them, and frying until crisp in hot oil.
12 medium-sized scallops, reserve the cleaned and cupped half shell
A little vegetable or corn oil for griddling
For the cucumber relish
Half a small cucumber
2 medium shallots, peeled, halved and finely chopped
1½tbsp cider vinegar
1tbsp chopped wild fennel tops
4–5tbsp extra virgin rapeseed oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
First, make the cucumber relish: put the shallots in a pan with the vinegar, bring to the boil and remove from the heat. Meanwhile, halve the cucumber lengthways and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Cut the flesh with the skin into neat ½cm dice, then mix in a bowl with the fennel and the rapeseed oil, and season to taste.
Heat a heavy frying pan or ribbed griddle and lightly oil it. Season the scallops and cook for about 2 minutes on each side. Warm the shells a little, place the scallops back in the shell and spoon the relish over.