Glistening like rubies beneath a canopy of frothy white flowers and verdant foliage, the Island strawberry is the jewel in the crown of the PEI summer. Socials are planned at just about every church hall, and shortcakes start making their way into ovens all across the Island as these little beauties reach their peak in mid to late July each year, and who can blame us? With a honeyed fragrance that wafts in on a breeze and the perfect balance of tart and sweet, local strawberries at their finest are simply irresistible, and on PEI they are an essential part of any summer gathering.
My Strawberry Scallop Ceviche is a fun and fast starter or snack that pairs the creamy sweetness of PEI scallops with the balanced tartness of strawberries to fine effect. Ceviche, or citrus cured seafood and fish, is an ancient dish that’s still popular all over the Caribbean and Latin America, and with some of the world’s best seafood on our doorstep it’s high time we gave this millennia old technique a try ourselves. When dealing with seafood in this way, however, it’s important to remember a few food safety notes. First, always use previously frozen scallops as this will remove the risk of certain parasites, and second, once thawed make sure to prepare and serve the ceviche immediately. The longer it sits in the lime juice, the tougher the pieces of scallop will become. With its zesty, creamy tartness, contrasting textures, and a gentle warming heat in the background, this lightning fast dish is great at any kind of summer gathering.
And for those more interested in a classic sweet recipe for strawberries, look no further than my Matcha, White Chocolate, Strawberry Pavlovas. The light as air matcha green tea meringues add lovely grassy notes to the rich cream and sweet strawberries, and the lime zest ties it all together for a combination that really sings, nevermind a colour combination that’s straight out of a summer garden. Though meringues can be finicky beasts, if you take a bit of time and care to get acquainted with the recipe and the clues to look for, you can whip these up for your next dinner party or strawberry social. The best part is, if the meringues do go flat, you can always smash them up and call the whole thing Eton Mess! It’s a win-win!
My dishes this month certainly air on the delicate side, but as with so many summer ingredients, I believe that strawberries are one of those special things that are best when handled as simply as possible, paired only with a few carefully selected flavours that enhance their natural splendour. And though merely dipping these scarlet baubles in sugar isn’t even necessary when peak strawberry season rolls around, I think these two recipes are winning combinations that celebrate their innate majesty as queen of the summer fruits. Cheers!
medium PEI strawberries
small red chilli
inch english cucumber
big handful of cilantro leaves
cup juice of 1-2 limes
pinch of sea salt
Extra Virgin Olive Oil for drizzling
tortilla chips to serve
Finely dice the shallot, chilli, and cucumber into very small pieces and add to a bowl with the lime juice and salt.
Dice the strawberries a bit larger, and slice the scallops into 3-4 discs each and add to the dressing ensuring the scallops are well coated with the lime juice. Leave to cure for 3-5 minutes depending on how rare you want it. Meanwhile, chop the cilantro and add to the bowl 1 minute before the end of the curing time.
Serve immediately with tortilla chips and your favourite summer beverage!
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