French Cuisine at its best: Coquilles St. Jacques

The first time I came to France to meet my husband’s family, it was Christmas time. I was already quite stressed as I was going to meet my in-laws for the first time, but the fact that they were French and did not speak English at the time and that this was going to be the first time I celebrate Christmas (we don’t celebrate Christmas in Turkey) were raising my stress levels enormously. Luckily I was able to speak a bit of French and my husband’s family was very welcoming and everything turned out to be great in the end.

The reason why I’m talking about my first Christmas is because that was the day I ate Coquille St. Jacques (scallops) for the first time; an (unofficial) French Christmas staple. Now I don’t know if Coquille St. Jacques are eaten throughout France in Christmas time but most families that I got to know do, so I give myself the right to call it a staple :p

From its very decorative presentation in a shell to its rich creamy taste, coquilles St. Jacques was a coup de coeur for me! I didn’t dare to do it on my own before because I thought it was a bit complex. I decided to give it a try because my mum came to visit us last week. (Also we forgot to ask my husband’s granny to prepare for us in advance :p)

It turned out to be much easier than I first thought, and they were super yummy! However, of course, it still cannot beat the ones granny does -even though she gave us the recipe!- I guess perfection takes lots of year of practice 🙂

To realise this recipe you will need;

  • 3-4 scallops per shell/person (you can use small plates if you don’t have shells), I used around 12 for four people
  • Around 200 grams of mushrooms
  • 1 medium or 2 small shallots
  • As much as parsley as you want (thanks for the precision granny!!)
  • 1 glass of dry white wine
  • 1 spoon flour
  • 40 grams of butter+a bit for cooking vegetables
  • Breadcrumbs

First thing to do, if you bought your scallops with their shells, is to separate them from their shells and clean them in cold water. I got mines already washed and separated so I skipped this step.

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Next, you need to fill a pot with cold water and add the scallops. Start heating the water and watch it carefully while you’re doing the other steps- you should take the scallops out 3 minutes after the water starts boiling. This is really important as they will get really hard and elastic like if you cook them more. Save around 1 wine glass of the cooking water for later.

In a pan, melt the butter and add the diced shallots, sliced mushrooms and minced parsley. Fry them until cooked.

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Meanwhile, you can dice your scallops.

In another pan melt 40 gr of butter then add the flour to make a “roux”. When it’s done, add the wine and cooking water. Boil for 2 minutes. (You may need to adjust this step if it’s too dry, you can add a bit more wine and cooking juice if needed.)

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Making the roux. Add equal parts of extra juice and wine if you find the sauce too dry.

Add the cooked mushrooms and shallots to the sauce, stirring to combine. Then add the scallops and stir again.

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celsius.

Distribute the combination into scallop shells or small oven dishes and sprinkle with some breadcrumbs. Add a tiny bit of butter on top of each before putting into the oven.

Keep your coquilles in the oven approximately 15 minutes, or until the breadcrumbs turn golden. Bon appétit!

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