WINNER THE TASTE UK 2014 STARTER – Vanilla Scallops with Pancetta and Pea Puree

Vanilla Scallops with Pancetta and Pea Puree 
winning dishes

 Rules of Debbie’s Kitchen!

  1. Read Your recipe ( turn your oven on if needed) Remembering a recipe is guidance and you can personalise as you desire, TASTE is personal.
  2. When buying ingredients hero the MAIN ingredient in your dish and spend as much as you can afford on the best, you can always use cheaper ingredients for the rest of the recipe!
  3. Get everything out- Equipment & Ingredients  (this makes cooking simpler, quicker, easier and tidying up much faster too!)  
  4. TASTE your food all the time ( so have some little spoons ready no double dipping!)
  5. Weigh your ingredients if required in your recipe ( put in bowls , saucers etc just so they are ready for you to use )
  6. Warm your plates if your serving hot food – a gentle warm heat 
  7. Start Cooking 
This recipe 

Serves 4 or 2 very greedy Ones!


  • Bowls that you can put all your prepped ingredients in 
  • Scales ( I use old traditional ones but any you have)
  • Good knife for prepping 
  • Mandolin if you have one , if not be ready to slice very thinly – do it slowly
  • Chef Rings or egg Cup!
  • Blender or masher 
  • Frying pan
  • Saucepan  


  • 150g butter ( i do use unsalted as I like to control the amount of salt I use by tasting )
  • 12 hand-dived scallops ( I specify hand dived as ethically better, larger and much tastier, remember to hero the main ingredient it makes all the difference ) 
  • 1 vanilla pod, seeds 
    only ( To get the seeds slice the pod in half, and scrape gently a knife or back of a spoon down the open side and you will get black seeds), keep the pods and pop into sugar to flavour or oils 
  •  250g piece of pancetta ( or smoked bacon whatever your budget allows)
  • 250g frozen petit pois
  • 250g fresh peas and pea pods
  • 250ml chicken stock
  • Pinch of fleur de sel
     or really good sea salt
  • Fresh living pea shoots, to garnish ( you could even use watercress for garnish)

How to Cook

1.Put the butter in a pan and  Cook on a low heat until the butter turns brown and set aside.( This is important to get it to light brown foamy stage will take about 5-7 minutes, keep an eye on it s it can turn to burnt dark not nice flavour quickly. he brown bitter is a beautiful nutty flavour)

 2. Prepare the scallops ( do this if you bought on shell, cut out gently to not damage the scallop, remove any non white parts if you have the coral keep aside – or add as part of your garnish pan seared in butter) – clean, dry and season with salt and pepper and the vanilla seeds and put aside in a bowl/plate/saucer.

 3. Slice the pancetta with a mandolin– or very very thinly slice,  then cut using chefs rings ( if you don’t have chef rings use anything that small like a egg cup!)  to sit on top of the scallop (checking the size on the scallop). Then fry or oven-bake until crispy ,( I prefer to bake them in the oven as they keep there shape better, if you put them in between greaseproof paper and then put a baking sheet on top you will keep them super flat)

 4. Meanwhile cook the peas with boiling salted water. Once cooked, drain, add the butter and blend ( if you dont have a blender mash together, and if you want super smooth put through a sieve)

5. Pass the pea purée through a sieve/chinois to get it smooth. Taste and season.

6. Next put the pea pods in stock and simmer until reduced down, until half the liquid left

7. Once reduced add a little white wine and cook until a light sauce, it will naturally thicken and reduce this is what you want a flavourful stock

8.Cook the scallops in the brown butter for 2 minutes each side. Best way is to place in the pan clockwise and then you can turn them at the right time and they ALL get cooked perfectly . They should just colour  lightly and spring back when you touch them  allowing you to know they are cooked 

 9. Dress the warmed plates with pea purée, then add a drizzle of reduced pea pod sauce. Pour some brown butter over the top, then add a pancetta crisp and a sprinkle of fleur de sel or sea salt,  Garnish with pea shoots and serve.

ENJOY , Bon appetit 

Personalise  making it your own

  • Use the corals as either a sauce ( blend them together after cooking in butter) add a little stick to loosen, or pan sear and add as art of the dish
  • Use a different puree instead of peas, parsnip,or celeriac or cauliflower puree would be good
  • Add black pudding I always use Bury Black Pudding!
  • Instead of Vanilla you could try  warming spice like nutmeg or cumin, not a lot use to season and this would definitely be better on the parsnip,or celeriac or caulifower puree

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