I grew up in a seafood-loving household. You name it, if it came out of the water, we loved it—trout, shrimp, catfish, tuna, skatefish, and more. Scallops, however, are arguably my mother’s favourite water-sourced ingredient, so she served it as often as the family finances allowed. The best scallops I ever consumed, however, were fresh from the sea in the Moroccan coastal town of Essaouira, at a small plastic-tented dockside booth. We chose each scallop by hand from a basket, watched them be shelled, and then prepared to eat, some “cooked” in citrus juice, others smokily grilled; my pleasure in that moment remains strong. So when my husband announced he was going to make a special scallop recipe out of Mapie de Toulouse-Lautrec’s 1961 cookery book, La Cuisine de France (Orion), I practically rushed to set the table.
Called coquilles saint-jacques au vermouth (scallops with vermouth), it was a mouthwatering delight. Once again our daughter found something to dislike about the dish—loved the mushrooms, loathed the scallops—which surprised me. She is a child who can devour a platter of sushi and sashimi without blinking even one of her twinkling brown eyes and grins like a Cheshire cat when she spots pâté de fois gras. Oh, well, we’ll be testing her tastebuds again and again as this blog progresses, hopefully educating her palate even more. But trust me: Mme. de Toulouse-Lautrec’s vermouth-soused scallops are swell, especially with some sea-salted spinach on the side.
COQUILLES SAINT-JACQUES AU VERMOUTH
SOURCE: La Cuisine de France by Mapie de Toulouse-Lautrec (Orion, 1961)
SERVES 5 PEOPLE
1-1/2 pints scallops
1 cup vermouth
3/4 pound mushrooms
7 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup white wine
1 onion, chopped fine
1 tablespoon flour
3 eggs yolks
3/4 cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper
Cook the scallops with the vermouth in a small saucepan for 10 minutes.
Wash, trim, and slice the mushrooms and sauté them in half the butter for 5 minutes.
In another saucepan cook the wine and onion together for 15 minutes.
Heat the rest of the butter in a larger saucepan and stir in the flour. Add the wine with the onions and stir until smooth. Strain the broth from the scallops into the pan and continue stirring. Season with salt and pepper.
Beat the egg yolks and cream until blended and add that to the sauce. Reheat but do not let the sauce boil.
Put the scallops in the center of a heated serving dish. Surround with the mushrooms and pour the sauce over everything. Serve very hot.