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Coquille St. Jacques

With the advent of flown-in fresh seafood, we get beautiful day-boat scallops in New Orleans these days. (Scallops are not native to these parts.) Back in the old days, if you saw scallops at all it meant you were eating this classic dish. The old Arnaud’s was especially famous for it. The sad fact was, however, that the only part of the scallop that was used to make the dish was the shell. The seafood that looked like scallops in the shell was usually some anonymous seafood cut into circles. Skate wings were particularly common for that purpose. (Now, interestingly, we’re seeing skate wings being served in some gourmet places under their own name.) If those really were scallops, they were the inferior little bay scallops.

I’ve thought for a long time that this old dish should be reinvented and returned to menus–scallop shell and all. In the meantime, make your own! Not too difficult, once you have good scallops in hand. I’ve thought for a long time that this old dish should be reinvented and returned to menus–scallop shell and all. In the meantime, make your own! Not too difficult, once you have good scallops in hand.

Coquillees St. Jacques, with foie gras: a variation on the classic by Pardo's.

Coquilles St. Jacques, with foie gras: a variation on the classic by Pardo’s.

  • 8-12 medium sea scallops (not the tiny bay scallops)
  • Creole seasoning
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 3 green onions, finely sliced
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced into pieces about the size of a nickel
  • 2 cups fish stock or oyster liquor
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 Tsp. Tabasco
  • 3 Tbs. grated Grana Padano or other parmesan cheese
  • 3 Tbs. fresh bread crumbs

1. Slice the scallops crosswise. If they’re very large, halve or quarter them from top to bottom as well. Sprinkle with Creole seasoning to your taste, and brush with some of the melted butter.

2. Sear the scallops in a heavy skillet for about a minute on each side. Remove and set aside.

3. Lower the heat to medium. Add the wine and bring it to a boil while whisking the pan to dissolve the browned bits from the scallops. Reduce the wine by half, then whisk in all but 1 Tbs. of the remaining butter. When it begins bubbling, whisk in the flour until blended completely. Add the egg yolks, the green onions and mushrooms, and cook until the onions are soft.

4. Stir in the fish stock or oyster liquor, salt, and Tabasco. Bring to a light boil. Add the scallops to the pan and cook until the sauce thickens.

5. Pour the pan contents into coquille shells or au gratin dishes. Top with a mixture of parmesan cheese and bread crumbs and a flake or two of the remaining butter. Bake on a pan in a preheated 350-degree oven until the top browns and the sauce bubbles. Serve hot, but with a warning about how hot it is.

Serves four.

2 Readers Commented

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  1. BEN J PIAZZA JR on May 16, 2016

    Tom: The title of your recipe is “Coquilles St. Jacques, with foie gras” but you do not mention the foie gras. How would you incorporate it in the dish? You also mention in “Today’s Flavor”using a little Cognac. Would you use that in lieu of/addition to the wine and would you add it with the wine or at a later stage? I always order the scallops with foie gras when I see it on a restaurant menu. I think it is a great combination! Ben

    • Tom Fitzmorris on May 16, 2016

      Hello, Ben. .

      Cognac in a savory dish usually is added early in the cooking, usually after the proteins are seared (scallops in this case) and onions and other vegetables are seared. You let the Cognac come to a boil for a couple of minutes, then proceed.

      I just had a great picture of a scallop dish with foie gras is all. To include foie gras with scallops, just throw the foue gras into the pan to sear it, set aside, then add it to the serving dish right before serving. You get a pretty good pan sauce out of this, too.
      Tastefully yours,
      Tom Fitzmorris

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