Fricassée de coquilles Saint-Jacques à la crème
It’s windy today and blowing from the south. I’m standing in the Kitchen, sipping an espresso and watching melted water run down an icicle that hangs outside one of the windows. It’s still winter, but spring is on the wind.
The entire town seems to be outdoors today, thanks to the unseasonably warm weather. Earlier in the day, my cello instructor held a concert at a local chapel. A beautiful warm winter afternoon. Racing music echoing off the stone walls. A chance to just pause and reflect. It was one of those precious, remarkable moments in time – you could feel something special was happening. The allegro comodo from Fauré’s Sonata op.109 still leaps and jumps and twirls in my mind. Spring is definitely in the air.
But back to the Kitchen. This is not the day for a luxurious braise – heavy and warm and comforting. This is a day for a lighter touch, for the promise of spring even if it’s still truly weeks away. And at the same time, the entree should be substantial enough that there’s no risk of late-night snacking.
Scallops: fresh and quick
Scallops are one of those great seafood proteins that don’t get as much attention as I think they deserve. Light, sweet, ready in minutes – and far too often treated to a single-note technique (seared). The recipe below, from the incredible The Complete Bocuse – adds richness through a cream sauce which repeats the sweetness of the scallops with the addition of vermouth. After all, there’s a reason Paul Bocuse is considered one of the greatest French chefs of all time. It is quite simply delicious – and it cooks in a flash, which is an extra bonus.
Fricassée de coquilles Saint-Jacques à la crême
- 1 lb sea scallops or bay scallops (500 g)
- 4 tbsp butter (60 g)
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 2/3 C white vermouth (75 ml)
- Generous 3/4 C crème fraîche or heavy cream (200 ml)
- salt and pepper
- To ensure the freshness of the scallops, ask the fish seller not to remove their shells until the moment that you buy them, or, better still, do it yourself. Carefully wash the scallops.
- Season the scallops with salt and pepper, roll them in flour, and shake them lightly to remove any excess before cooking.
- Heat the butter in a large enameled cast-iron frying pan. When very hot, add the scallops and cook over moderate heat for 4 to 6 minutes if using sea scallops, 2 to 3 minutes if using bay scallops. Shake the pan frequently and turn the scallops over half-way through cooking.
- Pour the lemon juice over the scallops, stir in the vermouth, then more over the cream., stirring to scrape any juices from the bottom of the pan into the sauce. Bring the cream just to a boil, add a little salt and pepper, and serve.