A truly glamorous first course for a dinner party. The scallops are in effect ‘cooked’ by the lemon juice, as in the South American dish ceviche. Much the prettiest thing is to set the scallops in their shells (available from good kitchen shops and some fishmongers) but otherwise use wide cocotte dishes.
Cut the orange coral from the scallops and keep whole. Slice the white part of the scallops across thinly. Put the slices and coral closely together in a shallow dish and pour over enough lemon juice to cover them completely. Leave on one side for 30-45 minutes, until opaque. Divide the broccoli florets into small sprigs, cutting off any stems. Steam or boil the broccoli for about 3 seconds, just until bright green. Rinse immediately in cold water to cool and then leave on one side.
Put the white wine in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the caster sugar, saffron strands, cayenne pepper and salt to taste. Sprinkle in the gelatine and stir well until completely dissolved.
Put the scallops into a sieve to drain off the liquid, then rinse with cold water and drain again. Put a heaped dessertspoon of smatana or soured cream into the centre of each scallop shell or cocotte dish. Place the corals of the scallops on top and arrange the slices all round. Dot the broccoli among the slices and around the edge of the shells.
Place the shells in patty tins to keep them level, then very slowly spoon the wine and saffron mixture into each shell. Leave until cold, then carefully transfer, still in the patty tins, to the fridge to set.
© 1997 Josceline Dimbleby. All rights reserved.