Coquilles St. Jacques – a French Scallop Recipe

When it comes to French scallop recipes, there aren’t many dishes more indulgent than coquilles St. Jacques. The scallop is served in its own shell, lying waiting to be discovered underneath a creamy blanket of sauce, like hidden treasure below the sea.

Coquilles St Jacques arranged alongside sliced mushrooms, whole onions and samphire

Coquilles St. Jacques translates as ‘St. James’s shells’ or ‘St. James’s scallops’, and is named after Saint James, who is often associated with scallop shells.

Empty scallop shells waiting to be filled

The scallops are poached and lightly fried before being returned to their shells, and topped with sliced mushrooms.

Sauteeing mushrooms in a white frying panMushrooms and a scallop inside a scallop shell (the process of making coquilles St Jacques)

Next, they are drowned in a rich sauce of double cream, white wine and mushrooms, sprinkled with breadcrumbs, and placed into a hot oven to bubble away until cooked.

Some versions of this French scallop recipe also include finely sliced potatoes and a touch of grated Parmesan, but I left these out. The indulgently creamy, wine-flavoured sauce really warms the cockles – it’s like comfort food with class.

Scallop shells filled with mushrooms, scallops and a creamy white wine sauce (making coquilles St Jacques)

Only a few years ago, I was pretty squeamish about seafood. Something about the appearance and texture of shellfish just put me off even tasting it. How times have changed. I first tried clams when I went to Lagos, Algarve in 2016. Pork and clams is a popular Portuguese dish, and it certainly won me over. Since then, I’ve become a lot more adventurous when it comes to seafood. Only last week, I tried fresh crab claw for the first time while judging for the North East Wales Year of the Sea Food Challenge. I couldn’t quite get the hang of the crab cracker, but once the waiter had kindly done the honours for me, I took great delight in digging out the soft flesh from inside the claw.

Scallops are my favourite shellfish. I’ve experimented with a few scallop recipes  but I’ve never tried poaching them until now. It was actually fairly easy, although I don’t think I would’ve enjoyed cleaning them myself. I bought my scallops fresh from E. Ashton Fishmongers in Cardiff Market for £1.25 each, and they cleaned the shells out for me.

Making coquilles St. Jacques can be a little fiddly at first, especially if you’ve never poached scallops before, as it’s important to get the timings right. Give the recipe a good read through beforehand and prepare the ingredients before you begin cooking. Enjoy this indulgent seafood dish as a starter, or as a light lunch. It goes very well with a glass of sauvignon blanc!

Freshly cooked coquilles St. Jacques (one portion)

Coquilles St. Jacques

One of the most indulgent of all French scallop recipes, Coquilles St. Jacques ('St. James' shells) consists of poached scallops served in their own shells, smothered in a creamy, white wine sauce and sprinkled with breadcrumbs, before being baked in the oven until golden. 

Course Appetizer
Cuisine French
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 2 people
Calories 952 kcal
Author Kacie Morgan

Ingredients

  • 4 scallops with shells
  • 75 g mushrooms sliced
  • 80 g butter
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 egg yolk beaten
  • 125 ml white wine
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 200 ml double cream
  • 2 tbsp golden breadcrumbs
  • pinch salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Bring 300ml water to a simmer in a medium-sized saucepan and add the chopped onion and seasoning to form a broth. When the water starts to boil, add the white wine.

  2. Carefully place the whole scallops (including the roe) into the water and poach for three minutes. 

  3. Remove the scallops from the broth, set them aside and reduce the heat. 

  4. Melt 30g butter in a frying pan and sautée the mushrooms until tender.

  5. Add the scallops to the frying pan and cook them for a minute or two each side, until golden. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm. 

  6. Meanwhile, melt 50g butter in a small saucepan and add the flour. Strain the broth through a sieve and add it to the pan, whisking it until smooth and ‘velvety’. 

  7. Whisk the egg yolk with the double cream, remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the creamy egg mixture. 

  8. Place each scallop back into its (cleaned) shell, surround it with mushrooms, and pour the sauce into the shell. I filled mine almost to the brim. 

  9. Sprinkle with golden breadcrumbs

  10. Bake for 10 minutes in the oven on gas mark 7-8/220°C.

Recipe Notes

Tips for the perfect coquilles St. Jacques:

Get your timings right when cooking the scallops - you don’t want to overdo them!

If you’re buying your scallops fresh from a fishmonger, ask them to clean them for you.

Buy your scallops on the day you intend to cook them, so you can be confident they’ll be fresh.

Make sure the shells are clean of dirt before you start cooking, so you don’t have to wash them as you cook.

 

Perhaps one of the most indulgent of all French scallop recipes, Coquilles St. Jacques recipe consists of scallops in a rich, creamy white wine and mushroom sauce, topped with breadcrumbs and baked until golden.

Perhaps one of the most indulgent of all French scallop recipes, Coquilles St. Jacques recipe consists of scallops in a rich, creamy white wine and mushroom sauce, topped with breadcrumbs and baked until golden.
This is a collaborative post.

20 Comments

  1. February 7, 2018 / 4:36 pm

    I absolutely LOVE scallops! Im dairy free but would love to try this dish with alternative ingredients xxx

    • February 8, 2018 / 12:27 pm

      This is such a delicious dish and the presentation looks amazing too. It’s so easy to do, you’d be amazed! The sauce is made using double cream, white wine and egg yolk so I’m not sure how it would work out as a dairy-free dish, but if you have any ideas, let me know – I’d love to add your thoughts to my tips section and I can credit you too!

  2. February 7, 2018 / 10:42 pm

    Oh wow this looks stunning and oh so delicious. I’ve pinned to my comfort food board 🙂

    • February 8, 2018 / 12:26 pm

      Aww thank you! I really appreciate that. If you try out the recipe, let me know how it goes!

  3. February 7, 2018 / 11:01 pm

    Kacie, I’m allergic to scallops and it’s really annoying because I always fancy them! Oh well. I suppose I could substitute prawns.

    • February 8, 2018 / 12:25 pm

      Oh no! That must be torture. I love them. They remind me of marshmallows to look at them!

  4. February 8, 2018 / 6:12 pm

    I love seafood and this is one of my faves! I cannot believe how you manged to get over your seafood aversion! You are awesome!

    Thanks for sharing!

    Leigh at Fashion Du Jour LDN x

    • February 9, 2018 / 3:23 pm

      Aww, thanks Leigh! It’s funny how our taste buds change as we get older.

    • February 9, 2018 / 3:22 pm

      They are lovely, I love them lightly toasted in a frying pan too!

  5. thenafranssen
    February 9, 2018 / 4:08 pm

    I love everything about this..and scallops too? Count me in.

    • February 10, 2018 / 4:00 pm

      It’s the best scallops dish I’ve ever tasted, if I do say so myself 🙂

  6. February 9, 2018 / 9:30 pm

    Ooh, these look delicious! I’ve not had scallops in years. You’ve got me craving some now, though!!

    Louise x

    • February 10, 2018 / 3:57 pm

      I love scallops, and they taste delicious cooked like this!

  7. February 12, 2018 / 1:25 am

    Wow, this looks absolutely delicious. My husband would die if I made this.

  8. February 13, 2018 / 4:29 pm

    Oh this looks so delicious! I think my husband and my kids will love this.

    • February 14, 2018 / 8:43 pm

      I hope you enjoy it! If you try out the recipe, let me know how it goes.

  9. February 27, 2018 / 8:01 am

    I can’t eat scallops but it’s a beautiful looking dish! I love the sound of the sauce and the breadcrumbs to give it a little texture too.

    • February 27, 2018 / 3:13 pm

      Aww, that’s a shame. I do love fresh scallops. The sauce is so indulgent, I often end up eating spoonfuls of it out of the saucepan when I make this recipe!

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