I love the flavor and texture of many seafoods – especially wild sea scallops and tiger prawns. Prepared by searing quickly at high heat, just to the point of being cooked through, they go well with a marinade using citrus – especially lime. And two flavors that complement lime in a good seafood marinade are ginger and jalapeño. For a real treat, cook them over a fire of alder wood (chips or pellets work too) to add just a touch of mild smokiness…
- 1 lb large wild tiger prawns (about 15 per pound), peeled and deveined with tails on
- 1 lb large wild sea scallops (about 10 per pound)
- 1 jalapeño chile, minced
- 1 inch piece fresh ginger root, minced
- juice of 1 lime
- 1 tbsp olive oil
Peel and finely mince a 1 inch long section of ginger root. This works best by slicing thinly across the “grain” (the fibers that run lengthwise through the root), then stacking the slices flat and cutting first into slivers and then crosswise into small pieces. Cut the jalapeño in half, remove the seeds and white membrane, and mince it in a similar fashion. All previous warnings about the handling of hot peppers with bare hands apply here again…I’ll leave it at that.
In a prep bowl, mix the minced ginger, jalapeño, olive oil, and lime juice. Set aside for the time being. More than likely, your prawns will come with the shells still on them. Peel and devein them to get rid of any sand or other grit that might be hanging out in there (it is actually their digestive tract), leaving the tails on. The easiest way to do this is with a sharp paring knife – “pop” the connection on either side of the shell segments located just forward of the tail with the tip of the knife, then slip it down the shell and peel sideways to pull all of the shell sections off at once. A quick scrape of the knife along the bottom will pull the swimmerets that don’t come loose with the shell. Then slice along the “back” just deep enough to expose the dark vein and pull it free with the knife. With a little practice, you can knock out a pound of prawns in only a few minutes…
When you’ve got the shrimp all peeled and cleaned, put them in a gallon freezer bag with the scallops. Pour in the marinade from the previous step and shake things around to coat well. Remove as much of the air as possible from the bag, then seal and place in the refrigerator to marinade for a minimum of 4 hours (up to 24 hours). I will usually get everything started just after making breakfast, and they’ll be just right to cook for dinner.
About 30 minutes before it is time to cook, get a bundle of bamboo skewers soaking in some cold water to prevent them from burning on the grill. If you’ve got some nice metal ones, skip this (unless you like your metal skewers cold and wet for some reason). At this time, also get the grill ready for HIGH heat, about 500 degrees. If you have a gas or briquette grill, you can prepare some alder chips for a little smoke if you like (I’ve got the pellet grill, so that’s already covered). Proceed to lance the prawns and scallops onto the skewers in any fashion you like… Here, I alternated both on the same skewer, but if you’re into seafood segregation, then by all means, keep your scallops and your prawns on separate sticks. One thing I would recommend highly for skewering things like seafood (or just about anything for that matter) is to use TWO for each “kabob” – this keeps things from spinning wildly when you try to pick them up and turn them on the grill.
With the grill heated up and everything on skewers, put them directly on the grill just long enough for the shrimp to turn light pink and the scallops to turn fully opaque – about 2~3 minutes per side. If you let them cook too long, the scallops will transform from tender, juicy morsels with a wonderful delicate texture to chewy little hockey pucks that you could use for mouth-guards in various contact sports. It is a subtle difference that takes a remarkably short time to happen.
If you don’t have a grill, or don’t feel like grilling (what’s wrong with you?), you can alternately use a large skillet on high heat and quickly sear/sauté them until just cooked. Work in batches, depending on the size of your pan, so that you have room to toss and turn them to cook evenly while keeping them in the part of the pan that is hottest.
Serve them up with a fresh green salad (with a splash of balsamic vinegar on top) and some mango salsa like I did here, or you can serve them as seafood “tacos” using a large leaf of romaine lettuce as the shell and some melon pineapple salsa on top (remove the tails first if you go this route). Enjoy!