Valentine’s Day is stressful for those who are in a relationship (the expectation of perfect romantic gestures – the card, the dinner, the flowers), as well as for those who are not in one (being subjected to the giddiness to all of the above!). But, the most important relationship that one has, lest we forget, is the one we have with ourselves.  Treat yourself kindly and cook yourself the best meal on Friday. Here is wishing you a Happy Valentine’s Day.

Scallops are decadent and easy to cook – a treat for yourself or one to impress your friends. Fresh scallops are in season right through to March. Flash-frozen scallops are just as good and are available year round – and they may be cheaper than the fresh alternative.

Scallops are sustainable seafood rich in Vitamin B12, magnesium and potassium, and are one way to get recommended Omega-3s. I usually sear scallops in olive oil, but if you are treating yourself at home, use a combination of butter and olive oil. Note that searing is a technique which simply means cooking at high temperature so that a crust forms on the surface of the food.

Serve scallops with a green salad, topped with dried cranberries, walnuts, goat cheese and beets. Alternatively, serve with steamed or sautéed vegetables.

Seared Scallops

4-5 per plate

  • Rinse the scallops in a colander. Fresh scallops may have some sand stuck to them.
  • Season with salt and pepper; adjust the salt if using salted butter.
  • Heat the pan until it becomes hot. Add just enough olive oil/butter mixture to lightly coat the pan.
  • Once the oil starts smoking, place a single layer of scallops into the hot oil. Leave them to cook for two minutes.
  • Turn the scallops over and sear for another two minutes.
  • Remove immediately and plate.


Ask the Chef: How to Clean and Devein Shrimp

This year, we incorporated the Italian Christmas Eve meal tradition of using seven fish into our holiday plans (upon A’s suggestion and some timely New York Times recipes). One of the dishes was roast shrimp with aioli (see the NYT recipe here) Preparing this feast meant that A. and N. had to look closely at the fish and shellfish that we were planning to use, and it turns out that they had the most questions about the shrimp.

It is almost always cheaper to buy whole shrimp (look for shrimp with firm flesh) and clean it yourself. I devein the shrimp before cooking. My mother would also do the white vein on the underside, but I have noticed that most cooks do not bother with this step.

How to clean shrimp:

  • Hold the shrimp with its head between your dominant thumb and two fingers, and yank firmly away from your body. Its shell should come off cleanly.
  • Next, position the tail between the dominant fingers and pull away from your body with a firm tug.
  • Remove the legs and all the other shells


  • Turn the body so that the curved side faces you
  • Use a small, sharp knife and run it a quarter inch below the flesh
  • Carefully remove the black/brown string-like vein that runs the length of the skin
  • Rinse the shrimp.