River Cottage’s Gill Meller brings a taste of the sea to Camp Bestival cooking in his role as a Feast Collective ambassador
Camp Bestival has been bringing stellar global food to its beautiful site at Lulworth Castle for ten years now. But while the lineup of the carefully curated Feast Collective food area draws on cuisines from Ghana to Taiwan, Dorset has always been lovingly represented too. Food Ambassadors this year include Gill Meller from just down the road on the border with Devon at River Cottage. Gill has long been Hugh-Fearnly Whittingstall’s right-hand man in the kitchen and released his first award-winning cookbook, Gather, last year. His food is simple and seasonal and makes the most of local ingredients like in this summery seafood dish that you could cook on a campfire…
“I can’t think of many other ingredients that come complete with their own little frying pan that is both beautiful and conducts the heat so well. For this recipe, you’ll need to buy your scallops in the shell, or at least in the half shell, because they cook in the shells themselves. I do this directly in the embers of a fire – it’s brilliant fun and quick, and the scallops taste so good with a hint of wood smoke and edge of burnt butter. I’ve given a method for making your own butter, a project I find really rewarding, but of course, normal stuff will be absolutely fine. I add dried seaweed and a hint of garlic – they bring a fitting depth that complements the scallops perfectly.”
280ml double cream (or 100g butter)
2 tablespoons dried seaweed flakes
1 small garlic clove, peeled and finely grated
Good pinch of sea salt
6–8 large scallops in their shells
Freshly ground black pepper
To make the butter, pour the cream into a bowl and whisk until it starts to thicken then split. Then, use a wooden spoon to beat the cream and drive out the buttermilk. Once the butter granules begin to bind, dip your hands in icy water, then squeeze the butter together to get out as much buttermilk as possible and form a solid mass. Save the buttermilk for soups, smoothies or bread.
In a bowl place the butter with the seaweed flakes, the grated garlic and the salt, add black pepper to season, then beat together. Place the flavoured butter on a sheet of greaseproof paper and form into a rough cylinder. Roll it up in the paper and refrigerate.
Open the scallops but leave the roe attached to the muscle. Place a scallop in each half shell, remove the butter from the fridge and break a generous disc over the scallop.
Level out the hot embers of the fire with a stick or poker, then place the scallop shells onto them. The scallops will heat up quickly and the butter will start to sizzle, frying the scallops in their own shells. After 1–2 sizzling minutes, flip the scallop meat over without disturbing the shells. Cook for a further 1 minute, until the scallops are cooked through, then remove each shell from the embers. If at any point you think the butter is blackening or bubbling too fiercely before the scallop is cooked, rearrange it in a less hot part of the fire (a little browning is good, though). Set the scallops on plates and tuck in, but remember the shells will be hot!
Camp Bestival is on the 27th – 30th July at Lulworth Castle and Park.
Go to www.campbestival.net for ticket details.