Tagliatelle with blackened scallops

Once you’ve done that, you’ll want to show off with it, and when you show off, it usually means you spend money. That means seafood. Prawns and scallops are just wonderful tossed through simple buttered noodles, and they take a quantum leap into glory when you douse them with spices, hit them in a red-hot pan, and watch as the kitchen fills with smoke and the seafood turns black. We picked up this sort of thing during the eighties, when Paul Prudhomme’s famous blackened fish dish was racing through most restaurants across the world. That in itself is a wonderful dish, served with a little melted butter, but if you follow the same course with prawns or scallops, you’ll end up writing love letters to M. Prudhomme.

The Seasoning

4 teaspoons sweet paprika

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon onion powder

½ teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 dried chilli, ground to powder, or

2 teaspoons chilli powder

a little butter, melted

4 peeled prawns, or scallops for each portion - Make sure you buy ‘dry’ scallops. Scallops which have been soaked in water are an insult and should be reserved for the dog.


Mix the seasonings together in a bowl.


Dip the prawns or scallops in the melted butter, then into the spice mix. Make sure they are well coated.


Heat a dry, heavy-bottomed pan on high heat for about 5 minutes, until it is as hot as it ever will get. A drop of water should evaporate instantly.


Add the scallops or prawns, one at a time, easing each about the pan so it will not stick. Don’t cook too many in the pan at once, and toss them or work them about with a wooden spoon until done, about 90 seconds. Make sure the prawns and scallops are just done. There is nothing worse than overcooked versions of either. Scallops seem to take a little longer than you would think. Just squeeze them. They are right when they are firm but tender.


Serve on the edge of freshly cooked pasta, tossed with lemon butter sauce, snow peas and fresh herbs.

WINE: You need a white wine with some zing to stand up to this onslaught. Sauvignon blanc will do the job. New Zealand is making some lovely styles – look for Cloudy Bay, Moreton Estate and Montana. The top Aussies are Taltarni, Eaglehawk and Katnook.