Updated: Jul 8, 2019
Earth, Air, Fire and Water. The four elements proposed by the ancient Greeks. What are these from the perspective of scallops?
Earth: they live in water
Air: they don't breathe it
Fire: they're sensitive about it
Water: they've had enough of it (see Earth)
A perfectly-cooked scallop has been exposed to a very high heat for a very short amount of time such that the exterior becomes caramelised (possibly with some assistance from a knob of butter), and the interior remains almost uncooked. In my experience, it is impossible to get a good result by trying to cook a wet scallop. I never wash them. Rather, I use kitchen paper to clean them.
So what can we learn about scallops from the ancient Greeks? Simple: if you're going to cook them, don't wet them. Alternatively, wet them but don't cook them.
I put the word "ceviche" in inverted commas because ceviche is a dish in and of itself. Whereas, what I am suggesting here is an approach. Basically you use an acid to "cook" the scallop, but you include some flavourful ingredients along the way. The following list of ideas may be extensive but it's not exhaustive. Choose judiciously.
Acid: lime, lemon, orange, (grapefruit?)
Herbs: coriander, tarragon, chives, chervil, mint, basil
Spices: sea salt, coriander seeds, peppercorns (white, black, pink, green, Sichuan), fennel seeds, cumin seeds, cayenne pepper, chilli flakes, celery seeds, celery salt
Flavourings: chilli, ginger, spring onion, red onion, garlic, fennel, celery, cucumber, tomato, green pepper, wild garlic, capers
Oil: extra virgin olive oil, sesame oil, herb-infused oils
In "Patricia Wells at Home in Provence" (see reference), ginger and lime are the flavours of choice. Here's another suggestion (depicted). These are nice served with rye crispbreads.
Scallops, white part only, sliced into 5mm thick discs
Coriander seeds, lightly crushed
White peppercorns, lightly crushed
Green chilli, deseeded and very finely chopped
Extra virgin olive oil
Put everything in a glass or ceramic bowl, stir well and then cover and leave in the fridge to infuse for 1-3 hours.
Remove from the fridge and allow to lose the chill a little. Serve with or without the marinade, or sieve the marinade for a less coarse finish.
"Patricia Wells at Home in Provence", Patricia Wells (1996), pp. 215: https://www.amazon.com/Patricia-Wells-At-Home-Provence/dp/B001OKP3AC
The classical elements: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classical_element