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.
- 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.