‘Light at the end of the tunnel’

‘Light at the end of the tunnel’

Dig In!
Mark Roper

I created this dish for my dad, so it has huge meaning for me. It has actually developed our personal relationship since I first made it and it has brought us closer. The title of the dish is self-explanatory, really. There is a positive white scallop ball surrounded by darkness. But the pop of white is the focus and the first thing you see among the dark and it’s the positive that matters. This dish is all about contrasts and it might look fancy, but it’s achievable by any cook.


Quantity Ingredient
1/2 bunch flat-leaf parsley, rinsed
1/2 bunch dill, rinsed
1/4 bunch tarragon leaves, rinsed
1/2 bunch basil leaves, rinsed
handful fennel fronds, rinsed
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons mascarpone
1 lemon, juiced
125ml grapeseed oil
3 x 4 sachets squid ink
vegetable oil, for deep-frying, plus 1 additional tablespoon
8 raw prawns, peeled and deveined, legs reserved
12 sorrel leaves

Scallop ball

Quantity Ingredient
48 scallops, no roe
60g sour cream
1 lemon, zested


  1. To make the scallop ball, slice 40 of the scallops evenly in half horizontally to make 80 discs. Place the halved scallops in a single layer between 2 sheets of plastic wrap. Using a rolling pin, very gently roll out the scallops so they are all an even size.
  2. Chop the remaining scallops very finely. Put the chopped scallops in a bowl with the sour cream and the lemon zest and season with salt.
  3. Tear off a 30 cm square of plastic wrap. Place the wrap lightly over a coffee cup and push it down about 6 cm in the centre to form a semi-circle shape. Line the plastic wrap with the scallop discs, slightly overlapping them in 2 concentric circles. Reserve 1 piece as a lid. Spoon in a quarter of the chopped scallop and sour cream mixture, then top with the lid, ensuring the lid will be overlapped by the outside scallops. Repeat with the remaining scallops and scallop mixture. Bring in the sides of the plastic wrap and wrap the scallops tightly to form a ball. The finished ball will be about the size of a small apple. Tie the end of the plastic wrap and place the scallop ball in the refrigerator to firm up.
  4. Put the parsley, dill, tarragon, basil, fennel fronds, white balsamic, mascarpone and lemon juice in a large food processor. Blitz to make a fine paste. With the processor running, slowly add the grapeseed oil and continue to blitz for a few minutes. Pass the mixture through a fine sieve, discarding the pulp. Return the emulsion to the processor, add the squid ink and blitz again until fully incorporated and the mixture is black. Season to taste.
  5. Fill a small saucepan one-third full with vegetable oil and set it over high heat. Check the temperature of the oil by dipping in the handle of a wooden spoon – if the oil bubbles around the handle, then it’s hot enough. Add the prawn legs and deep-fry them for 2 minutes. Transfer to paper towel to absorb any excess oil.
  6. Put 250 ml water in a small saucepan over high heat. Once boiling, add the sorrel leaves. Boil for 50 seconds then remove and plunge into iced water.
  7. Season the prawns and put them in a small frying pan over low heat with 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. Gently cook the prawns for 1 minute on each side until just cooked through. Remove them from the pan and transfer to paper towel to absorb any excess oil. Dip the prawns and sorrel in the black herb emulsion until well coated.
  8. To assemble the dish, remove the scallop ball from the refrigerator and cut the knot of the plastic wrap to remove the scallop ball. Place it in the centre of a plate. Slice the prawns and sorrel leaves in half and gently place them around the scallop ball. Insert the prawn legs into the gaps and serve.

Brent’s tip:

  • Try very hard not to get the squid ink onto the scallop ball as the colour will automatically stain the scallops.
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