Shop With a Chef: Jane Cornborough

March 2, 2012

I

could give up meat and eat seafood all day,” says Jane Cornborough, who grew up in Nanaimo eating more turf than surf. “I think my dad cooked salmon once.” After working at a sushi bar near Tofino (with detours to New York’s Aquavit and three-Michelin-starred restaurant Daniel), she eventually landed at C Restaurant under chef Robert Belcham, and fell in love with B.C.’s rich selection of seafood. Cornborough particularly loves scallops because of their versatility—they work well both raw and cooked. In winter months, she sears and caramelizes them.

How to Buy

“Steer clear of fully opened or cracked shells. Next, check for smell. Once you open the shell, the meat should have a strong, but sweet, briny odour. (A fishy smell is a sign that the meat has spoiled.) If you’re buying packaged scallops (out of their shell), look for ones with a light tan to pink colour—and ask the fishmonger if they’ve been injected with STP, a liquid preservative that extends shelf life but will steam the scallop instead of allowing it to caramelize and crisp when it comes time to cook.” Cornborough prefers golf-ball-size weathervane scallops from Sawmill Bay Shellfish (250-285-2724). “The seed is raised in a hatchery and then feeds off naturally occurring plankton. They are not depleting wild stocks, so it’s completely sustainable.”

How to Cook

The trick is to get them in and out of the pan quickly. “There’s nothing worse than an overcooked scallop. It’s tough and rubbery—horrible.” Seasoning is simple: sprinkle raw scallops with a little kosher salt and lemon juice. Sear scallops
on high heat with canola oil (which doesn’t burn and won’t change the flavour, the
way butter will). Caramelize each side for 60 to 90 seconds, then place on a piece of paper towel to drain. “Scallops have a delicate flavour, so they can match up to bolder ingredients.” Cornborough likes to serve them with celery-root purée and a cabbage, bacon, and grainy mustard slaw.

CLICK HERE To watch Jane shuck and cook BC Scallops

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