On the first day of Chefmas John Calton gave to me…

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Sublime seared scallops with treacle smoked bacon and hazelnuts 

At this time of the year we are very lucky to get some fantastic king scallops from the Isle of Mann. This dish is a beautiful tried and tested combination of flavours: smoky bacon, peppery watercress, earthy roast hazelnuts and sweet scallop flesh. Try it yourself this year. It takes a bit of preparation, but it’s well worth it. Plus, there’s nothing more festive than busying yourself in the kitchen when it’s too cold to venture outside.

The preparations 

Treacle Smoked Bacon
1k piece of boneless pork belly
250g Black treacle
300g Maldon sea salt

Rub the treacle all over the pork belly, place in a plastic tray, cover with clingfilm and leave for three days.
2. Take the meat from the tray, rub the maldon all over it place back in the fridge for two days. During this time keep rolling the pig around in the treacle.
3. Take the meat from the container, rinse off excess salt under a cold running tap, pat dry then cold smoke in a Bradley for four hours. Now refrigerate over night.
4. Cut the smoky sweet delight into lardons ready for use.

100g peeled hazelnuts
25 g sherry vinegar
50g pommace oil
50g hazelnut oil
1 banana shallot and 1 clove of garlic finely diced & sweated down in a touch of butter
A pinch of Maldon sea salt
Twist of freshly milled pepper

Pan-roast the hazelnuts till golden brown releasing a toasty aroma. Now crush with a pestle and mortar until coarse.
2. Add the remaining ingredients and check the seasoning, set aside.

8 hand-dived extra large king scallops in the shell
Small tray with Jay cloth
Icy water

1. Remove the Scallops from the shell.
2. Remove the attached muscle and coral, reserve for another dish.
3. Dip into iced water to firm up and remove any grit.
4. Drain then pat dry, refrigerate to set the shape nice and compact.

Sublime seared scallops

The dish

Serves two large scallops per person

Your prepared 8 extra large hand-dived scallops
Diced Butter
Lemon juice
Maldon Salt
Sherry vinegar
Roast hazelnut dressing
1 Bunch of scallions (finely chopped)
1 clove of finely diced garlic
Zest of 1 lemon off the microplane
100g watercress picked into sprigs (stalks finely chopped and put to one side for finishing)
150g Treacle-cured smoky bacon cut into lardons


  1. Pan-sear the scallops on the flat side first in a medium to hot pan with just a thin film of pommace oil to coat the base. Control the heat of the pan, you should see the scallop gradually change colour as the heat rises through the flesh.
  2. In a separate pan begin to caramelise the lardons with a small drizzle of pommace oil, the fat should begin to render from them swirling the bacon in its own fat and juices. At this point deglaze with a small splash of sherry vinegar, then add the garlic and let soften, now add the chopped watercress stalks and scallions.
  3. Whisk up the hazelnut dressing and spoon into the bacon pan.
  4. Add a generous knob of diced butter to the scallops, allow to foam then flip the scallops over. Now add a squirt of lemon juice and allow the butter to turn nut brown (beurre noisette). Remove the scallops from the pan and season with Maldon salt and get ready to plate up.
  5. Place the bacon and hazelnut salsa in the centre of a plate. Position the scallops on the top.
  6. At this stage we sometimes shave fresh truffles over the top at The Staith House (albeit for an additional price) then we garnish with the sprigs of locally foraged watercress.
Emma Cullen

Emma Cullen

Emma is the best person.

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