One of the things that excited me most about moving to River John, was the ability to grow our own food in a little country garden. I soon discovered that if I used a larger lens, I could see there was much more potential for amazing fresh food just beyond our garden. In fact, a whole world of wild, freshly caught fish was minutes away in John Bay, with teams of fisherman working the seasons like clockwork to bring us tasty delights all year.
Being a newcomer, I had to learn what was in season at what time of year. The Northumberland Strait is unique (like all fishing zones), and the fresh catch is always changing. Luckily, I can rely on the locals to keep me apprised as to “what is what and who is who” in the fishing world. One of my favourite stories to tell my friends from away is one that could only happen in a small town, and it is the story that inspired this dish that has become a family and friends’ favourite.
And so, the story goes:
One day in early May, the sun was shining with good intensity, and John Bay was sparkling. It felt like a Sauvignon Blanc kind of day. I was done with the heavy red wines of winter and was ready for a crisp, tangy, refreshing white wine. So, I headed down to the NSLC to see what they had to fit the bill.
The liquor store overlooks the bay, so I couldn’t help but wonder what the boats would be hauling into the dock that day. So naturally, after my usual greetings, I asked Peter, the manager at the time, what was in season. Without hesitation he proclaimed that scallops were the catch of the day. When I asked where I could get my hands on some, almost if by cue, the store door opened and a local fisherman entered the building. Peter says, “That guy should be able to help you.” He froze like a deer in headlights as we both stared in his direction. I explained that I’d come for a nice white wine for dinner; I was told he might have some fresh scallops that would pair beautifully. I asked him where I should go to pick some up. To my surprise, he said, “Well, I’ve got some in my truck that I was going to cook up at the camp tonight.” Then he generously said I was welcome to have them.
I couldn’t believe my luck! At home, I skipped in the door with my white wine and two pounds of fresh scallops. My husband tilted his head with confusion, “What? Where did you…?”
“Only in River John,” I told him, pleased
This scallop recipe is super easy. It takes less than 15 minutes from idea to table. I encourage you to support our local fisherman this spring. There is nothing better than fresh homegrown and home-caught food. We are so lucky to have both available in our own back yard.
Seared Scallops with Avocado-Lemon Sauce
Serves 4 | Prep Time: 10 mins | Cook Time: 5 mins
2 medium avocados
¼ cup coconut cream (the top part of the coconut milk that has separated from the water)
Juice from 1 large lemon
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
¼ jalapeño, seeded (optional)
1 clove garlic, peeled
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
12 large sea scallops
Pinch of sea salt
Pinch of pepper
1 tbsp avocado oil
4 radishes, thinly sliced in rounds
1 green onion, sliced in rounds
Pinch of pea shoots per plate
- Sauce. Combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth and creamy.
- Scallops. Pat dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat the avocado oil in a large sauté pan over high heat. Once the oil
is shimmering, add the scallops, cook
for two minutes, flip and cook for another two-to-three minutes
(until golden brown).
- Plate. Spoon a large dollop of the sauce on the top edge of the plate, then drag the bottom edge of the spoon through the sauce pulling it toward the bottom of the plate (imagine a paisley pattern). Add the scallops to the plate and garnish with the pea shoots being the final touch.