This is my take on the classic French dish, Coquilles Saint Jacques, with an Italian twist. I have devised a quick thrice-baked routine which makes the recipe extremely easy to execute. Scallops have a nice texture but it is hard to infuse flavour into them. One common way to given them additional layers of taste is to use a gratin. This is what I have done, using a simple breadcrumb mixture containing 3 complimentary flavours: garlic, pesto and parmesan.
- Large Scallops (500g)
- Bread (3 slices)
- Minced Garlic (3T)
- Pesto (3T)
- Parmesan (1T)
- Olive Oil (1/4 cup)
- Leave 3 slices of bread in the open to dry overnight.
- Cut the crust off the bread and cube the bread into 1cm pieces. Cut the crust into small pieces as well, but separately.
- Prepare a brine of 1T salt, 1t sugar, the juice of a wedge of lemon in two cups of water. Place the scallops in the brine for twenty minutes. Do not go beyond twenty minutes or the scallop flesh will become too salty.
- Rinse the scallops and wrap them in a tea towel for a few minutes to dry them as much as possible, then transfer the scallops to a container.
- In a large mixing bowl mix 3T pesto, 3T minced garlic with 1/4 cup of olive oil. Spoon 2T of this mixture onto the scallops, mix well and leave to marinate.
- To the remainder of the mixture add a light sprinkle of salt and a heavier sprinkle of pepper and stir.
- Preheat the oven to 200oC.
- Place the bread pieces on a casserole dish and bake in the oven. When the bread is crispy and dry, this will take 5 minutes, take it out of the oven, but leave the oven on.
- Allow the bread to cool for a short while on a wire tray. Then smash the bread in a plastic bag with a mallet to turn them into fine crumbs. Add the crumbs into the mixing bowl with the pesto oil and sprinkle on 1T of powdered parmesan cheese. Mix well and then put the flavoured crumbs back into the casserole dish and back into the oven, this time for 8 minutes.
- When the gratin has formed, take the casserole dish out again, and immediately arrange the marinated scallops into the dish evenly. Spoon any left over marinade onto the scallops. This goes back into the oven for a further six 6 minutes or so, depending on the size of your scallops.
- Serve immediately, advising your guests to eat the scallops with the gratin.
- Your scallops should not be too small for this recipe. For 500g, there should be about 15 scallops. I usually just use frozen ones, the higher grade type that comes in a paper box, not a plastic bag.
- Scallops should not be overdone. They are best when they have shrunk slightly. Look for the right moment and take them out of the oven immediately. If your scallops have shrunken noticeably, then they are overdone and will be tough and hard.
- If you wish too, you can re-plate the scallops as shown here.