07 April, 2010

Fishy Delights 33: Ocean Queen Smoked Scallops

I've got a bunch of "Fishy Delights" posts coming up; this is partly because I enjoy canned fish and seafood and it makes a convenient lunch, but it's also because I'm on a mission to lower my triglyceride levels and one of the ways I'm doing it is to increase the amount of oily fish in my diet.

Today's entry - Ocean Queen Smoked Scallops - certainly qualifies as canned seafood, but doesn't really count for much in the omega-3 department, alas.  The consolation, however, is that they are delicious.  Probably the best canned shellfish ever.

I never have very high expectations when I buy canned shellfish.  Oysters, clams, and mussels turn into something alien and only vaguely edible once they've been smoked, packed in oil, and processed at the cannery.  (And yet, as I've mentioned before, that doesn't seem to stop me from buying and trying them whenever a new brand catches my eye.)  The first time I saw these smoked scallops at Ocean State Job Lot, I passed them by precisely because I thought they'd be just another nasty canned shellfish, but Steve at Connecticut Museum Quest bought a can on one of his own OSJL excursions  and emailed me about their deliciousness.  I just couldn't hold out against that arm-twisting.

The scallops are certainly not that impressive when the can is opened -  they look like murky little brown nubbins in soybean oil.  I drained off the oil and dumped the scallops onto a plate, and that was when it became apparent that these were whole scallops, not just the stripped-down adductor muscle Americans are accustomed to seeing at the fish market and on their plates.  No, these tiny morsels include the rest of the mollusk along with flat round muscle.  It adds up to a singularly enjoyable treat, delicious right out of the can.  The flavor is a complex and well-balanced interplay of both savory and sweet notes:  there's the gentle smokey tone, the strong clammy flavor of the scallop roe and "non adductor bits," the mild briny sweetness of the muscle, and a subtle but noticeable "milky" sweetness underlying it all.  Accenting it all is the texture of the scallops - at once creamy and smooth, yet firm.

I ate 'em with a fork, right off the plate, and although these really are too good to let their flavor be buried and lost to a recipe, I can think of at least a few ways to use them - they'd be great added to a clam chowder, for example, to round out the flavors and bring a pleasant and mild smokey flavor to the broth.  Or fork-mashed and added to a clam dip - again, the sweet scallop flavor would enhance and season the clams.  Or used as a topping for a bacon/clam/scallop/anchovy pizza.  Awesome.


dale said...

When I was packing a lunch, I often had a variety of canned seafood. Typically packed in water, hot sauce or mustard instead of oil. I might have fish steaks, sardines or other. I would have really liked these based on what you say. But it has been at least 15 years since I carried a lunch to an office.

tony said...

Looking forward to more seafood. I'm phoning my fishmunger right now.

Anonymous said...

LOL, nope, can't do it. My hubby eats sardines.. i will eat them if they are bristling.. but these.. i don't think so. Hee hee.. i bet your breath smells awesome, LOLOL