Monday, March 30, 2015


The best baked scallops I ever tasted was in a Chinese restaurant in Tacloban. If I recall correctly, it was called "Ocho Restaurant." It may have been damaged by Typhoon Yolanda but I read in tripadvisor that it has re-opened and continues serving fantastic seafood.

It was a decade before the catastrophic Yolanda typhoon that I found myself in Tacloban. It was small, idyllic and hot. You could go around the city in a day. And that's what I did for work. Market research meant going to different stores from the palengke (wet market) to the small department stores. Before the day ended, my colleagues and I found ourselves in front of a sari-sari store along Magsaysay Boulevard, facing the bay.

I saw a young by of about seven. He was selling small Ormoc pineapples, sliced and skewered, ready to eat. We asked him what he was doing, selling pineapples when he should be in school. "School just finished,"  he replied and he was selling pineapples for his baon (allowance) tomorrow.  After buying what we could eat of his pineapples, we offered to give him extra money. The young boy refused, adding that we should just buy the rest of his pineapples to eat for later. That boy, for me, was a perfect picture of what Taclobanons are- friendly and feisty and at the same time persevering and proud.

He was of course the topic of our conversation when we were having dinner at Ocho restaurant later that night. As we downed the garlicky scallops with beer, we silently toasted the inspiring story of the boy whom we may never meet again but will forever remind us of the people of Tacloban.

It may take some time before I ever find myself in Tacloban again.  Remembering that day inspired me to create my own version of the baked scallops.

6 sea scallops, rinsed and drained
5 tablespoons salted butter, melted
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, chopped
1 tsp. mix of celery, salt,  black pepper, paprika
1/8 cup bread crumbs
1/8 cup parmigiano, grated
4 tsps. truffle oil

Wash the scallops in water and remove the white flesh also know as the "adductor muscle." I usually keep the orange bit right underneath the adductor muscle, which is the "gonad" and is commonly mistaken as roe. it is important to pat the scallops dry with a towel. Because otherwise you'll have boiled, not baked, seashells. Clean the shells and put aside.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).

Place the scallops, melted butter, garlic, and shallots in a bowl. Season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Stir gently to combine. 

In a separate bowl, combine the bread crumbs and grated parmigiano. Place the scallops back on the shell. Sprinkle the cheesy crumbs on top of scallops.

Bake until crumbs are brown and scallops are done, about 11 to 15 minutes. 

Serve while warm. Add a wedge of lemon on the side if you like a bit of added tartness.

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