These Galician Scallops, also known as Zamburiñas, are exquisite especially served with a smooth white wine béchamel and a crunchy Iberic ham! Surf and Turf at its best!
The Variegated Scallops, called Zamburiñas in Spain, is a small variety of scallops that are about half more petite than average scallops. Check the picture below to see the difference. Those mollusks change sex many times during their lifetime to end up male. Which I find strange because ‘shell’ or “Concha” in Spanish means “the lady part” in South America… Well, let’s leave it to that!
The coral (roe) is also eaten in Spain, especially with this smaller variety of scallops. The coral is that orange part lying on the side of the scallop, with Zamburiñas way more tender than the usual scallops. If you make the recipe with normal-sized scallops, you should avoid leaving them in; they are usually quite rough to eat. Otherwise, I suggest cutting them into tiny dice and adding them to the béchamel if you want to use the coral well.
The region where you’ll find Zamburiñas is North West of Spain in Galicia and Asturia. It is the land of many other great dishes, for example, the Galician octopus called ‘Pulpo a la Gallega‘ or the Galician cod ‘Bacalao a la Gallega.’ They even make a special empanada Gallega with the Zamburiñas.
Famous in Other Ways
The shell from this particular variety of scallops symbolizes the famous route of Santiago de Compostela. Back in the day, having one of those shells would mean you’d made it to the whole Christian pilgrimage to the Tomb of James in Santiago de Compostela. Many paths exist to reach Santiago de Compostela, just like its shell symbol with its many lines meeting at one point, a perfect symbol for the pilgrimage.
A Winter Appetizer
In Spain, the common belief is that small scallops taste better… February is the peak of the scallop season; they are usually served as appetizers or tapas. Spanish people often serve their scallops with a touch of Iberic ham, sometimes with a garlic-onion sauce, simple parsley, lemon and olive oil drizzle, tomato sauce or nothing!
Surf and Turf
For this batch, I wanted to try scallops the surf and turf way with the cured ham. I’ve made the scallops with a tad of white wine béchamel and topped it with a few pieces of Iberic ham (or any cured ham) enveloped in bread crumbs. Afterwards, the béchamel will smooth things up in the oven while the Iberic ham will become crispier for a perfectly smooth yet salty sea bite!
The recipe is suitable for normal-sized scallops as well. Also, add some lovely cheese before grilling if you fancy a little gratin or a Coquille St-Jacques style. Last, adding extra green parsley or chive topping to the cooked Zamburiñas would help bring out its colour!
Other Seafood Appetizers
- 10 Zamburiñas
- 100 g Iberic ham (or cured ham)
- 2 tbsp breadcrumbs
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp flour
- 50 ml white wine
- 150 ml milk
- 1 pinch nutmeg (*optional)
- salt a pepper
- Start by taking the frozen scallops out of the freezer, and leave them in the fridge for 30 minutes before the cooking starts.
- In a small saucepan, add the butter and flour, medium-high heat and let the flour cook for a minute or two until it starts to smell nutty.
- Add the cold white wine, milk and nutmeg, and whisk until it becomes thick.
- Add the breadcrumbs to the ham and mix.
- Add the béchamel sauce on top of the scallops, and top with the bits of cured ham.
- Preheat the oven to the max, and broil the scallops for about 5 minutes (for the small Zamburiña) or 6 minutes (for normal-sized scallops).