My brother recently visited Spain on his honeymoon. He and his new wife hit up the major cities, Barcelona, Madrid, and Seville, along with some day trips to Granada, Cordoba, and Toledo. Looking at his pictures has made me desperately want to return to my former stomping grounds and yet another part of me would like to visit Northern Spain, a region of the country I really haven’t explored. Although my first ever visit to Spain included stops in Pamplona and San Sebastian, two of the Basque Country’s most famous cities, that’s about it from my dealings with the northern part of the country and even then that was almost a decade ago.
While I’m not quite convinced I would like to walk the entirety of the Way of St. James (El Camino de Santiago), I know for sure I would definitely like to one day bike/drive/walk it, a worthy compromise I feel. Personally, I’m used to the arid landscapes of southern Spain, the fiery region of Andalusia (an-da-lu-thee-a as it is pronounced by Andalusian natives), and yet the gorgeous greenery of northern Spain, the lush rolling hills I’m sure would be equally captivating.
Looking at someone else’s photos will put you in the mood for the food of a certain country and especially when they included as many food photographs as they did. I settled on the Vieras de Santiago (scallops). My cookbook, The Complete Book of Tapas and Spanish Cooking, writes “Scallops are the symbol of St. James (Santiago), and this dish is associated with his shrine at Santiago de Compostela in Galicia. While scallops are incredibly expensive, from time to time I do get them from the supermarket since they’re one of my favorite types of seafood.
While I did not flambe the scallops nor was I able to acquire shelled scallops as the recipe noted, my slight deviation from the recipe I think turned out fine. The tomato sauce was delicious and as I had a lot left over I hope to make the recipe again this upcoming week perhaps accompanied by patatas bravas, a famous chili and potato dish.
Vieras de Santiago
Recipe from The Complete Book of Tapas and Spanish Cooking by Pepita Aris
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
7 oz can tomatoes
pinch of cayenne pepper
3 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup orange juice
4 tbsp butter
1 lb large shelled scallops, or 8-12 large ones on the shell, detached and cleaned
2 tbsp anis spirit, such as Ricard or Pernod
6 tbsp stale breadcrumbs
salt and ground black pepper
-Heat the oil in a pan and fry the onion and garlic over a gentle heat. Add the tomatoes and cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with a little salt and cayenne pepper.
-Transfer the tomato mixture to a small food processor or blender, add 2 tbsp of the parsley and the orange juice and blend to form a smooth puree.
-Preheat the grill (broiler) with the shelf at its highest. Arrange four curved scallop shelves, or flameproof ramekin dishes, on a baking tray.
-Heat 2 tbsp of the butter in a small frying pan and fry the scallops gently, for about 2 minutes, or until sealed but not totally cooked through.
-Pour the anis spirit into a ladle and set light to it. Pour over the scallops and shake the pan gently until the flames die down. Divide the scallops among the prepared shells (or dishes) and salt them lightly. Add the pan juices to the tomato sauce.
-Pour the tomato sauce over the scallops. Mix together the breadcrumbs and the remaining parsley, season very lightly and sprinkle over the top.
-Melt the remaining butter in a small pan and drizzle over the breadcrumbs. Grill (broil) the scallops for about 1 minute to color the tops and heat through. Serve immediately.