Scallop, leek, oyster mushroom, lemon, prosciutto, cream with pasta

Some feedback. It was lemony, very fresh, it tastes like spring, I like scallops. That’s good enough to share I think!

This is quite an unusual pasta in the sense you don’t often see these flavours combined these days. I have been experimenting with a style I’ll call French bistro circa 1994 (but without the hint of impending gout.)  I also made a similar dish served on rice, using curry powder which is so good yet so unphotogenic… unlike tonight’s dinner. This is not at all a heavy pasta, despite having a little cream it in it. Quite the opposite – the dash of cream softens the flavours of the vegetables and creates a delicate sauce that lightly coats the linguine strands.  Without the cream, I think the flavours would be too mellow.

As always, the secret is all about building flavours, but very delicate flavours in this case. Purposely, we use leeks not onions, subtle flavoured mushrooms rather than meaty typical mushrooms, and prosciutto because… this is what I had in the fridge, and it is much better than bacon here. When adding flavour, you are looking for a lemony, sweet mirin seasoning, complemented by sea salt flakes that perfectly complements the scallops and mushrooms. You use oyster mushrooms or enoki mushrooms, the kind that you find in the gourmet mushroom mixes (preferably when they are on special at M&S or Tesco because people who don’t know what to do with them ie. most of the population, don’t buy them that often!). These are delicate varieties that do not lose a lot of water when you cook them but also don’t have a strong flavour.  The sauce lets the flavour of the scallops shine through.

Recipe

Serves 2

Scallops. They do not need to be fancy, I just used the ones from M&S’s seafood section.
Leek, 1 halved, washed to remove all grit then finely sliced
Good handful of delicate, lightly flavoured mushrooms like oyster, enoki or shiitake.
Prosciutto, 1 slice chopped into pieces
Parsley, 1 tsbp finely chopped
Mirin, 1 tsp
Lemon juice from half a lemon
Olive oil
Salt
Pepper
Endoferm (a German seasoning, you can leave this out if you can’t find it)
Dash of cream, about 1 large dessertspoon or more if you prefer
Long pasta like linguine or spaghetti, enough for 2 people (see guide to measuring pasta in this recipe)

Method

Over a low heat, gently cook the leeks in olive oil, do not to colour them. Once they are soft, turn the pan up slightly and add the pieces of proscuitto and the mushrooms, turn them gently together in the leeks with a glug of mirin (or any sweet wine or sherry), finely chopped parsley, a bit of salt, lemon juice and… my favourite, endoferm for that background depth. Turn the pan down again and continue to cook on low heat until everything is soft and melded together.

Push the vegetable mix to the side, as far to the side as you can go because you are now going turn the heat up to high and you don’t want to burn or even brown the vegetables if you can get away with it. Once the pan is hot, place the scallops onto part of the pan that is empty. You are aiming to create a light crust on either side. Once this is done, turn the heat down again and stir the scallops and vegetable mix together and pour in the cream. Add a little water from the pasta cooking pot to thin the sauce. Season with a bit of salt and pepper, a squeeze more lemon juice and lift and stir the cooked pasta through the sauce in the pan.  Divide everything into two plates and do not forget to garnish with the obligatory sprinkle of chopped parsley. Parmesan cheese optional.

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