Saturday, August 12, 2006

Scallop Rolls with Homemade Relish

(I'm back in NYC and the dial-up issues that prevented me from posting instructions on how you too can gain the five pounds I gained last month are no longer an issue. Over the next few days I'll be posting recipes from the summer palace)

It’s been fifteen years since Greg and I merged kingdoms, fifteen summers of making the trek to the summer palace, and fifteen years of total befuddlement at what people will pay for the fried garbage of the sea, served on a hot dog bun! I do have a special place in my heart for fried clams, the exotic treat of my childhood. As much as I dreaded long trips in the family car, I couldn’t get enough of lunch at the Howard Johnson’s in Vincennes, Indiana, the fried clam capital of the United States, or so I thought for the first ten or so years of my life. But great leaping Jesus, eighteen dollars is a little too dear for something that gets handed out the same window as soft-serve ice cream, even if it does come with French fries and a Dixie Cup of coleslaw. Plus, I am no ordinary tourist, but the wife of a native, who must every year hear that the bellies of the clams are smaller, and less sweet than the specimens he enjoyed throughout his boyhood, presumably at less expense. Every year, I break down and ante up for a paper plateful, or at the very least snitch some off my indignant husband’s plate and they always leave me feeling greasy, flabbed-out and broke!

This creates a conundrum because a great pleasure of the summer palace is hosting some of our fellow aristocrats, who make the trip from the city with visions of fried clams dancing in their heads. Would that it was raw oysters, which I would happily eat by the bucketload! I knew that Uncle Monkeybutt especially, would be looking forward to horking down some of this crap, and how could I disappoint him when he had traveled the furthest to bask in our company? My only hope lay in improving upon the formula, by cooking up at home, where there is actual crockery, no mark-up, no long lines, and the only whining children are the ones who issued from my own loins. The results were highly praised by Uncle Monkeybutt, who got his clam roll two days later, on the drive home from my favorite local attraction.

I was like, “You’ve got to be kidding me! We’ll be eating dinner in about an hour and I’ve got two hundred dollars of groceries melting in the trunk!”

He was like, “Bitch, you just dragged me around Stop N’ Shop for two hours. I’m getting my clamwich and I’m getting it now!”


Scallop Roll with Homemade Relish

Soak five or six bamboo skewers for ten minutes or so. Skip this step if you are grill-less. If you already bought the skewers, you can play pick up sticks or express your frustration over this needless expense by stabbing something.

Meanwhile, make the relish. What? Make relish? Is that not a task better left to the condiment professionals? Fear not and relish this: A primary ingredient of homemade relish is non-homemade relish. It’s not brain surgery. It’s more of a Zen koan.
Homemade Relish
Chop a tablespoon’s worth of parsley, a carrot curl’s worth of lemon rind and an eyeball-sized shallot and combine with:
Fresh ground pepper
1/2 cup of mayo
a tablespoon of ketchup
1/2 teaspoon of mustard
a teaspoon of lemon juice
a squirt of hot sauce
and a tablespoon of pickle relish (it’s not going to lead to some sort of condiment Mad Cow situation, I swear, though you will end up with more relish than you’ll end up using on four scallop rolls. I had some on a veggie burger the other day and it was D. lish, even though it’s been what, three weeks since Uncle Monkeybutt graced us with his presence. Ah, the miracle of refrigeration.

Melt a tablespoon of butter, give it a minute or two to cool off, then toss it with a pound or better yet, a pound-and-a-half of sea scallops that you’ve rinsed and patted dry. Toss them with salt, paprika and a couple of cranks of fresh ground black pepper. Thread the scallops onto the skewers and grill them for five minutes or so, turning once.

Split open four hot dog buns and grill them for a minute, too. You heard me. I’m instructing you to ruin god-knows-how-many-dollars-worth of scallops with half a 99-cent package of grocery-store brand, nutrition-free weenie buns, the kind that make you think you’re a bad mother when you feed them to your children. Honey, just be glad it ain’t lobster. Ooh, bet that would be good. Anyway, one taste of the fully assembled final product, and you’ll be like, “Hell, yeah, I’m eating me a hot dog bun at every meal!”

Oh, speaking of assembly, all that remains to do is assemble and eat, so do that now. Don’t skimp on the relish.