This dish is very popular when it goes on any of our menus. The scallops we get are hand-dived off the south coast of Cornwall and have a unique texture and taste. Our supply is dependent on the weather, so we treasure them as a luxury ingredient. Their incomparable sweet flavour and beautiful texture really shine through in this simple dish.
Serves 4 as a starter or light lunch
16–20 fresh scallops, shelled and cleaned (roes retained if in good condition)
Olive oil for cooking
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the chicory:
2 chicory heads, outer leaves removed, shredded
50ml olive oil
75g unsalted butter
30g caster sugar
1 white onion, peeled and finely sliced
Finely grated zest and juice of ½ orange
150ml double cream
For the orange and tarragon dressing:
8 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 tsp chopped tarragon
For the chicory, heat a large frying pan over a medium-high heat and add the olive oil, butter and sugar. When hot, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Now add the chicory and cook for 2 minutes, turning from time to time.
Turn the heat down under the chicory to medium and add the orange zest and juice. Let the juice bubble away, then add the cream. Bring to a simmer and let it simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Meanwhile, for the dressing, cut the peel and pith from the orange and cut out the segments from the membranes over a bowl to catch any juice. Slice the orange segments and place in a bowl with the extra virgin olive oil and some salt and pepper. Set aside.
To cook the scallops, heat a non-stick pan until very hot. Season the scallops with salt and drizzle some olive oil into the pan. Carefully place the scallops in the pan, one by one, remembering where you placed the first one. Turn the heat down to medium and cook for 2 minutes.
Now flip the scallops over in the same order you placed them in the pan and cook for a further minute. Take the pan off the heat and allow the scallops to finish cooking in the residual heat.
To serve, warm up the creamed chicory if need be, then taste and correct the seasoning. Divide the chicory between 4 warmed plates or shallow bowls and top each serving with 4 or 5 scallops. Add a good drizzle of orange dressing and sprinkle with the chopped tarragon. Serve warm.
Everyday Seafood by Nathan Outlaw (Quadrille, £20) photography © David Loftus