Vieiras Veracruz

Mexico has almost six thousand miles of coastline—about half of the estimated total for the U.S.—but mollusks don’t seem to play a proportionate role in the country’s cuisine. Kennedy includes only one recipe for scallops in her classic Cuisines of Mexico, a cebiche, and not a single one for oysters. This is not to say that oysters and scallops aren’t eaten in the country, simply an observation that no single indigenous recipe for them has become familiar to the world at large. However, recipes for salt-water fish abound, one of the most distinctive being red snapper Veracruz (huachinango a la Veracruzana), a rich, colorful dish with dozens of variants, but all using tomatoes and chilies in various proportions.

This scallop recipe is a riff on that staple, though lighter and more intense. First, if you’re using frozen scallops, you must thaw them and squeeze out the excess water that inevitably makes its way into the meat. Even after doing this, you’ll find the scallop muscles will exude a lot of moisture when exposed to heat, so a preliminary sauté is necessary. Once the scallops are firm, coat them with pepper a bit of salt and the lightest dusting of plain flour. Brown in the least bit of oil possible, then add by spoonfuls this salsa, along with jolts of fresh lime juice and perhaps a bit of garlic. The scallops should be pungent, piquant, highly aromatic and served with cucumber or melon.

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