The Scallops Seared at the Must Wine Bar in Ottawa’s Byward Market were nicely pan-seared and made an interesting pairing with puréed squash.
I was actually a little hesitant to try this item from the appetizer section of Must’s rather eclectic menu, as I love scallops prepared in almost any way, but have also disliked Squash pretty much since childhood. Still, soldiering on and giving this dish a try paid off, as I very much enjoyed it.
I travelled to Ottawa regularly for almost twenty years back when I still lived in the far North, but, looking back, I can’t remember when the Must Wine Bar *wasn’t* a regular fixture on one of the little side streets in Ottawa’s famous Byward Market. Unfortunately, it appears it failed to survive the Covid19 Pandemic, and so it appears I may never realize my intent to make another visit.
Anyway, the Scallops appeared on the appetizer menu as Pan seared Scallops with Squash Purée and Crispy Prosciutto. I half-expected that the Scallops might actually be wrapped in Prosciutto, but this was actually crisply-fried and crumbled Prosciutto scattered atop the Scallops as an edible garnish, while the Squash, which I feared might be a thick pool of the stuff, was just an artistic paint-palette sort of smear beneath each Scallop.
The Scallops were nicely seared and lightly seasoned. Salt, plus a little pepper was certainly used, and I am fairly certain that there was celery seed used as well. I also fancied that I could detect a little Fennel in the background here and there, but I couldn’t identify the source. It was too faint a note to be Fennel Pollen, I think, so it must have been a small amount of very finely ground seed. This may have been applied directly to the Scallops themselves, but it may equally have been used when preparing the Squash.
The Scallops themselves were a little bit on the small side, I thought. For a main dish, I would certainly expect good, thick Sea Scallops rather than the diminutive specimens here, but this was an appetizer, after all, and the kitchen managed to cook them so they were still tender in the center (which gets harder to achieve as the scallops get smaller). The searing didn’t produce quite the same excellent crusting as with, say the Scallops Grilled at The Press Gang in Halifax, perhaps, but it was nevertheless a respectable job and any complaint on this issue would be unfair quibbling.
As to the Squash Puree and the Prosciutto. I actually liked the rather earthy tone of the Squash, which was a first for me, and it made a nice vehicle for the sweetness of the Scallops. The Prosciutto was pleasant enough, and added a few salty and umami notes here and there but, really, if wasn’t used, my experience wouldn’t have been diminished. In the end result, I was very glad I decided to try the Scallops Seared at the Must Wine Bar as they proved very nice indeed.