Conchitas a la Parmesana, or broiled scallops with a parmesan gratin, was one of my grandmother’s specialties. As a little boy, I was not very fond of seafood, but put melted cheese on top and I’ll ask for seconds. Today, I enjoy this dish as an appetizer both for the seafood taste and for the added flavor of the drops of Pisco.
The following recipe is adapted from Tony Custer’s “The Art of Peruvian Cuisine”. He claims this dish is uniquely Peruvian, and that he hasn’t seen it prepared anywhere else. It is easy to prepare and can be cooked in a matter of minutes to be served immediately. In my adaptation, I use whole scallops instead of scallops on the half shell.
I’ve tried wild sea scallops and sushi grade scallops and both work well as long as they are dry packed. If they are not completely defrosted, you can parboil them for a couple of minutes. Since the scallops are not on the shell, I add the olive oil and Pisco directly on the scallops. For color and a hint of sweetness, I add a thin slice of red pepper on top of each scallop.
- 8 medium sea scallops
- freshly ground black pepper
- olive oil
- Pisco Italia
- 8 teaspoons parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon butter
- 8 thin slices red pepper
- cooking oil for greasing a skillet
- Rinse and dry the scallops and season with freshly ground black pepper.
- Lightly grease an 8-inch skillet with cooking oil and arrange scallops on skillet.
- Coat each scallop with 1/4 teaspoon of olive oil and 6 drops of Pisco.
- Cover each scallop with 1 teaspoon of parmesan cheese and sprinkle with salt.
- Top each scallop with 1/8 teaspoon of butter and a thin slice of red pepper.
- Place skillet under a broiler at high temperature for 4 minutes or until cheese is golden brown.
- Serve immediately.
8 individual servings as an appetizer.
If you don’t have Pisco on hand, Tony recommends trying a white wine. The original recipe used scallops on the half shell, which act as little cups that collect all the juices while broiling.