Jacobs Jewels

Saturday 30/10/2004

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Diary and Notes

Walking into town to buy my weekend's food I wondered 'what haven't I had so far that screams out for a good feasting'? There are two things that jumped straight to my mind, pasta and fish. I've even been out for an Italian meal and not had pasta. It's time so set things right.

Now I have to confess that I was planning to go out for quite a few Guinesses later that evening and had already had quite a huge lunch, so I thought a small, light, pasta dish, with some fish might just be the thing. But that's not how I intend to live my life; going from one frugal workhouse type dinner to the next, no, I want to eat and to eat well. I was not dissapointed.

Contrary to what I may have said previously, it is possible to buy good, fresh, fish in Göttingen, you just (as always) go to Karstadt (I was going to link their site but they don't have any food mentioned - it's all watches and gizmos). I went to Karstadt. I strolled up to the fish counter and there before my eyes, sparkling like Kimberley diamonds, sat the finest jewels of any of the great seas and oceans of the world - jacobs jewels.

Now I'm actually talking about scallops. Here in Germany they are Jacobs mussels (but spelt in a German way and strung together with about 50 other letters into a giant unpronouncable stream of gibberish). In France they're noix St Jacques and there's no doubt some myth about how a scallop saved the life of Jacob by guiding his way across the red sea at night with its little orange foot. But all this religious banter aside, they are perhaps one of the greatest culinary delights that the sea has to offer. I know they are not fish but who cares, I never promised you fish, only food.

One final note: Scallops are expensive. They are expensive everywhere. Even if you buy them from the little fishing boats that come in at night in Exmouth they'll still be expensive. They are a delicacy and the powers that be, know that some of us are willing to 'shell out' for them - excellent pun Jon. I am however rolling in dosh up to my eyeballs and don't care a jot about the cost. I bought (for just me) five absolute whoppers. Four would have been enough after my huge lunch and with the cake and the beer and the pasta, but I wanted five and five it was to be.


  • Spaghetti with scallops in tomato and cream sauce,
  • Strips of courgette and carrot,
  • French bread.

  • More German white wine.

  • Eerdbeere torte (strawberry flan to you and I).


  • Spaghetti: Spaghetti, fresh scallops, shallots, olive oil, butter, white wine, capers, green pesto, tomato puree, cream, fresh parsley, black pepper, parmesan cheese.
  • Courgette & carrot: Courgette, carrot, olive oil, white wine, butter.


  • Spaghetti: When cooking pasta make sure of two things in particular, 1) You use a really big pan with plenty of water and 2) The water is good and boiling before you put the pasta in. That said, as long as you don't overcook it, you can't go wrong. After you've dropped it in the boiling water give it a second to soften and then stir it a bit to break up any clumps. After this, put on the lid and sit back for 10 minutes and it should be perfect.

  • While your spaghetti is cooking heat a little olive oil in a frying pan and fry the shallots gently. When softened take the shallots out, add a knob of butter to the pan, turn up the heat and place in your scallops. You want to singe them just a little on each side on a high heat. Never overcook scallops, it's a crime against all that is holy and Jacob will descend on his heavenly ladder and verily smite thee with a large smelly toilet brush for your wicked sin. Better to eat them completely raw, than rubbery and hard. About 45 seconds per side of browning should do. Put the shallots back in with the scallops, a few capers and a dash of white wine. After the wine has bubbled almost to nothing, turn down the heat, add a little green pesto and a little tomato puree, stir into the sauce. Just before serving stir in the cream. The entire cooking time for the scallops, including the searing, should not be more than 5 minutes - at the very most.

    To serve, take the scallops out of the pan and mix the cooked spaghetti into the sauce. Place the spaghetti & sauce on a plate, the scallops on the spaghetti and grate a little fresh parmesan and some pepper on top. Sprinkle with a little fresh parsley.

    Just to have something 'green' as well I fried some thinly sliced carrots and courgettes in olive oil, added a drop of wine and some butter and reduced until a glaze formed on the vegetables.

    Never serve something like this without some good fresh bread and a glass of chilled white winte.