Popular from the 1940s to 70s, Coquilles St. Jacques is a flavor rich appetizer of impeccable delight. Serve it as a starter course for formal meals, particularly holidays. Champagne pairs perfectly with this dish as does any dry white wine.
The scallop shell is the symbol of St. James, one of the original 12 apostles, and is still the key symbol found on the Camino de Santiago in Spain during the annual pilgrimage to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia. The association of Saint James with the scallop can most likely be traced to the legend that the apostle once rescued a knight covered in scallops. The scallop shell, representing charity, has always been a symbol used throughout Europe.
- 4 sea scallop shells
- 1 ounce Gruyere cheese
- 3/4 ounce fresh toasted breadcrumbs
- 3/4 ounce flat parsley
- 3/4 ounce freshly grated Parmesan
- olive oil
- Maldon salt
- black pepper
- 8 large hand-dived king scallops in the shell
- 1 1/3 Cups Sancerre white wine
- 3 shallots
- 8 ounces mushrooms
- 2 ounces butter
- 3 egg yolks
- 5 fluid ounces heavy cream
- parsley sprigs, for garnish (optional)
- Prepare the scallops and remove from the shell, cleaning the shell well.
- Pan-fry the scallops and place back into the shell and leave to one side while you make the sauce.
- Peel and chop the shallots and saute in a pan with some butter and add the mushrooms, then add the wine, Madeira and cream. Add the egg yolks and season with salt and pepper. Mix in the Gruyere cheese and chop the parsley and spoon the sauce on top of the scallops in their shells.
- Top with the grated Parmesan and breadcrumbs and place under the grill for a few minutes and serve hot on a plate with some dressed fresh salad leaves.
In Europe, scallops are usually sold in their shells, fresh. In America, we buy the shells separately as dishes, and scallops are generally sold in stores free from their shells, by the pound. Bay scallops, usually are very small, while sea scallops are larger. This dish may be used with either.