My mum calls, says she and my dad are at Costco and they’re thinking of buying scallops and shrimp. I say, okay, sure, and go to my kitchen, rummaging through my cabinets to see what I can make. There’s half a bag of spaghetti, some garlic, olive oil. I text and tell her maybe to buy some tomatoes. She says, okay, sends me an ETA.
I set a pot of water on the stove to boil, and I peel and slice five cloves of garlic. I toss the sliced garlic onto my small cast iron pan, cover it liberally with olive oil, turn the heat on low and leave the oil to sit, come to temperature, simmer slowly. Every so often, I’ll give the garlic a stir with a wooden spoon. After fifteen, twenty minutes, I’ll strain it, and I’ll have garlic oil and crispy fried garlic.
My parents show up with the scallops and shrimp and tomatoes on the vine, and I quarter and slice the tomatoes, put my spaghetti in the boiling water, and coat the bottom of my large cast iron pan with grapeseed oil, turning the heat on medium-low. While the spaghetti cooks, my mum rinses the scallops and pats them dry, shells the shrimp, and salt-and-peppers them all. I peel and smash a few more cloves of garlic. When the spaghetti’s cooked, I drain it, return the pot to the stove on medium heat, add a few tablespoons of garlic oil and toss in the tomatoes. The tomatoes soften as they cook; I move them around with a wooden spoon so they don’t burn, smash them while I’m at it; and I throw in the noodles when I have a sauce, add salt, mix it all together.
By the time my tomatoes are cooking, the oil is smoking on my cast iron, so I turn the heat up high, start placing scallops on the pan. I work in batches to prevent overcrowding, and each scallop gets a few minutes on one side to develop a hard sear before it’s flipped to cook and sear on the other side. The shrimp goes on in batches, too, as the scallops rest, and everything’s perfectly cooked, the scallops seared beautifully, soft and just perfectly cooked inside, the shrimp glistening pink, looking as though they’ll burst with juices and flavor when we bite into them.
I portion spaghetti into bowls (with tongs! You’d disapprove, I know), top the noodles with scallops and shrimp. My mum’s put together a simple salad, mixed baby greens with slivered, toasted almonds and ranch dressing. My dad’s set the table and is opening a bottle of wine. I take the opportunity to plop down onto the floor because this isn’t a normal, everyday meal — my parents stopped by to drop off my puppy, and it’s impressive I even got any cooking done, not when my puppy and I are ecstatic to see each other again.