This Coquilles St. Jacques recipe is a classic French dish, and when served on natural scallop shells, makes any meal a special occasion. Typically served as a starter it will also make a great light lunch or supper with a little salad on the side.

As with all “classic” dishes there are many variations according to different sources and regional variations, all with claims to be an authentic original. Variations include piped mashed potato, sauces enriched with egg yolks, prawns, mushrooms, cheese, curry powder, brandy and much more.

Recipe below keeps it simple and allows the favour of the scallops to come through. Sticking to the key main ingredients of scallop, cream, some onion and a crispy top. The other key aspect to the recipe is some pre-cooking of the shellfish. Under the grill the crispy top will blacken before the meat is done from raw.

Why Are They Called Coquilles St. Jacques?

Many legends surround the scallop shell and they have been symbolically associated with St. James since medieval times. Pilgrims who made their way to his tomb at Santiago De Compostela in Spain would collect a scallop shell while they were there, as a souvenir. Wearing one on your hat was a way of showing that the wearer had made the arduous journey.  In French Coquilles St. Jacques means ‘shells of St. James’ picking up on this popular association with the saint.

Coquilles St Jacques Ingredients

6  scallops, on the shell, cleaned from Walter Purkis & Sons
150 g of butter
3 large shallots peeled and finely sliced
Small glass of white wine white wine
150ml of double cream

For the crust

75g butter
1 garlic clove, peeled and flattened wit  blade of a knife
100g dried breadcrumbs
small handful of well chopped parsley

Coquilles St Jacques Cooking Method

Before cooking remove the shellfish from the fridge and allow them to come up to room temperature. This recipe uses the whole scallop including the roe – orange coral. If you prefer you can detach these and eat separately or chopped and sprinkled over the breadcrumb crust. This dish looks great served in scallop shells however you can use a suitably sized oven proof set of dishes.

Begin by melting the butter in a small pan (with a lid) over a low heat, then add the shallots and sweat, lid on, until soft. Stir regularly, so they do not colour. Once soft and translucent add the wine and bring to a gentle simmer. The next stage is to give the scallops some gentle cooking. Place them into the pan and cook for about 45 seconds each side. Remember that a large scallop will take longer than a small one, so adjust times accordingly. They are sufficiently done when they are a bit firmer and have become whiter and more opaque. Remove and set aside on a warmed plate or dish. Turn on your grill to medium high so it is ready when needed.

Keep the pan over the heat and simmer until the liquid has nearly all evaporated. Next take off the heat and stir in the cream. Season with salt and pepper.

Melt the remaining butter in a small pan along with the squashed garlic clove once the flavour has infused remove the garlic. Add the chopped parsley to the crumb mix well pour over the garlic butter, season and mix further.

Now its time to assemble your ingredients into the final dish. Arrange the shells on a baking tray so that they are all flat. Start with a good spoonful of the cream mixture into each shell. Next place the shellfish on top. Finally, sprinkle over a good layer of the parsley crumb.

They will only need about two to three minutes (the ingredients are already cooked) Keep a close watch as the buttered crumbs can change quickly from golden brown to burnt toast!. Garnish with a small parsley leaf and serve right away.

If you would like some more scallop recipes or cooking inspiration look here on our blog >>