Aren’t these a beauty? From Paris with love, la Coquilles St Jacques is the quintessential winter delicacy. Well, it is not the only delicacy but one of them. Not so well known in USA, it is an old French common classic Bistro dish, mainly served in the cold months, the ones with ‘ re‘ like Novembre, Decembre (in French) .It is when fresh seafood coming from North Atlantic, arrive in Paris fresh everyday, shiny bright of flavors and colors. In the dark of winter at Le marche’ Poncelet, Paris 17eme, the farmers, fishermans vegetables and fruits stalls offer the best produce so customers warmly dressed, press into the streets, crowd the stores.They line up in the cold to be first served, while everyone knows everyone calling up loudly for this and that. Laughters, smells, people fill up the narrow streets, going from the German gourmet shop to the special bakery for their baguettes, croissants and pains au chocolat passing though the wine store. It’s such a warm welcoming ambiance where one can forget the freezing winds that blow through the buildings.
If you have never experienced a Parisian market, you really miss out some of the great simple pleasures of French living!
So here they are, Le coquilles St Jacques uncooked ready to go into their sauce, oh the sauce! I wonder sometimes, was Saint Jacques around when a French chef first invented the recipe?
Ingredients : Serves 4 to 6
- 1 lb very fresh scallops medium size
- 1 1/2 pound small uncooked shrimps
- 2/3 cup white wine
- 1 + 1/2 cup water
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- 6 to 8 ounces mushrooms, washed and chopped
- 3 bay leaves and thyme sprigs
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 4 tablespoons flour
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 garlic glove + 1 handful parsley chopped finely together
- Bread crumbs
- Grated Swiss or Gruyère cheese
Here is how we make it!
In a medium saucepan, heat water, 1/2 cup white wine, lemon juice, salt , by leaves, thyme. When liquid is simmering add scallops and shrimps, simmer gently, covered for about 5 minutes. Remove scallops and shrimps and reserve liquid, that you will have strained.
In a medium skillet, over medium heat, add 1 Tbsp butter, 1 teaspoon olive oil, add mushrooms,the parsley and garlic mixture saute’ 3 to 4 minutes, then add remaining wine and 1/2 up water, salt and pepper, let it simmer 5 to 8 minutes, at low heat covered.
In small to medium saucepan, melt butter over low heat, whisk in the flour, without letting brown. When the mixture thickens, add about 3 teaspoons of scallops liquid, stir well then finish adding the remaining liquid whisking constantly, like for a béchamel. The sauce should be dense. Now add cream, let it thicken, stirring gently. Adjust salt and pepper, add scallops, shrimps, and mushrooms. Give one or two stir and remove from heat.
Fill up shallows ramekins or scallops shells (if you find them at your fishmonger), sprinkle lightly with grated Gruyere, then breadcrumbs just a dust.
Pre-heat the broiler, place scallops shells and broil till they become golden brown and bubbly!
Serve immediately over a bed of green!
Bon Appetit, mes amis!
Note: These are great elegant starters for a Valentine’s dinner or a good dinner with a fresh salad.
Au marche’ Poncelet !