Coquilles Saint Jacques is a Classic French dish gracing tables worldwide.
This wonderful dish always held a bit of mystery to me. It always mesmerizes me how such a complex flavor recipe can be quite the opposite of preparing: super easy.
That is why I love French cooking so much. Easy ingredients that can turn into something magical for your taste buds.
Please do not take me wrong, we have many complicated and complex recipes in French cuisine, but most recipes are easy to materialize in your kitchen. This dish is one of them.
Nothing is more delightful than tender scallops or bay scallops nestled in a bed of mushrooms, cream, and wine topped with bubbly cheese under the broiler.
Served into individual gratin dishes, it makes for a dramatic table presentation.
During the holiday season, they are served often, either for Christmas Eve dinner or Souper de Noel.
As well as for the Reveillon du Nouvel An or New Year’s Eve alongside Champagne, oysters, and foie gras.
In this Article
- What are coquilles St. Jacques?
- How to select your scallops at your fishmonger?
- Rule of thumb on the quantities of scallops to be served:
- Recipe tips
- Here are a few helpful tips for the ingredients needed
- Equipment you will need
- Cooking tips and step-by-step instructions to make this fantastic recipe for Coquilles St Jacques
- What do you eat with Coquilles St. Jacques?
- Substitutes and additions
- Can you make this dish ahead of time?
- Reheating instructions
- Frequently Asked Questions
- If you enjoyed this Coquille St. Jacques, look at some of my other recipes:
- Equipment used to make this delicious Coquilles St. Jacques recipe.
- Coquilles Saint Jacques
What are coquilles St. Jacques?
Coquille St. Jacques means scallops or St. James scallops.
Coquille St Jaques is a French dish of scallops cooked with wine and cream and served over or amongst a mushroom puree or medley in a scallop dish.
Finished up with cheese under the broiler until golden brown.
How to select your scallops at your fishmonger?
When shopping for fresh scallops, they should have a pale pink or bluish tint.
Ensure that they all are the same size so they will cook evenly.
Rule of thumb on the quantities of scallops to be served:
You can make this scallops recipe as an appetizer; in that case, you will only need two scallops per guest.
If you choose to serve it as a dinner plate, I recommend serving three per guest. Make sure each scallop is more significant in size to make it a copious dinner.
Scallops are the easiest fish to cook. My recommendation is to use cooking tongs to handle them. This will eliminate any unnecessary holes caused by a fork, which will cook your scallop faster.
Use the clockwise pattern to cook them to perfection.
- Have the skillet very hot, and add the scallops to the skillet in a clockwise pattern. They should not sear longer than 2 minutes per side.
- Gently nudge them to see if they are cooked. A simple shaking of the pan or light touch. Turn them over once done and sear the other side.
- Lightly flour and cook the mushrooms once they are nicely brown.
- Do NOT add salt to the mushrooms while trying to brown them. The salt will induce all the moisture out of the mushrooms, which will remain soggy instead of browning.
- Finely slice the shallots. It will help the cooking process and give it a more refined taste when you bite into it.
- Use good wine and let it evaporate for a minute or so to intensify the flavor.
- Add all the juices with the scallops back into the skillet.
- Be generous with the cheese; Comte cheese is so rich in flavor you do not want to skip it.
- I like to use individual gratin dishes; however, if you have or can find some “coquilles” which means shells dishes, use them for a beautiful table presentation.
- Divide and nestle the shallots in your gratin dishes.
- So my oven stays clean, and I do not burn myself, I place the individual gratin dishes on top of a cookie sheet and then place it in the hot oven.
Here are a few helpful tips for the ingredients needed
Sea scallops: All the same size will help with the cooking process. Medium size.
Unsalted butter: It will not modify the flavor of your dish.
Mixed mushrooms: I used three types: crimini, white caps, or wild mushrooms. Use all white caps or crimini.
Shallots: Favorite French child when it comes to cooking. Mine. The flavor is more intense. Of course, you can substitute with yellow onion, sliced thinly.
All-purpose flour: Binding agent. Give it time to be well cooked to release the nuttiness in flavor.
Garlic clove: Chop it finely. It is here to add a layer of flavor, not take over your dish.
Dry white wine: Crucial step and taking the stage with all the other ingredients. I always recommend using the exact wine you will be enjoying for dinner. Do not skimp on this crucial ingredient. A great wine will elevate this dish.
Heavy cream: Refines the flavors and blends them well together.
Fresh Oregano: Nothing beats the fresh flavor of fresh oregano. If you cannot find some, tarragon can be replaced.
Comte cheese: Gluten-free cow’s milk cheese. Creamy and nutty in flavor. Gruyere can be a good substitution for it if your local market does not carry the Comte cheese.
Equipment you will need
Large skillet : to accommodate the cooking process of the scallops and create the mushroom shallot sauce.
Cooking tongs: always best to use cooking tongs to turn over your food as it will not leave dents in your food, allowing heat in and cooking faster on that spot and uneven.
Shallow gratin dishes: The perfect presentation for the Coquilles St. Jacques. It goes from oven to table.
Cookie sheet: Place your gratin dish over for the broiling part of your recipe. This will allow you to place and remove your dishes from the oven without spillage or burning yourself.
Cooking tips and step-by-step instructions to make this fantastic recipe for Coquilles St Jacques
Blot and dry the sea scallops.
Season the scallops with ¼ teaspoon of salt and 1/8 teaspoon of pepper. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Sear the scallops on both sides for approximately 1-2 minutes per side, flipping them once. Transfer them to a plate once they can be easily lifted with cooking tongs.
In a skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Stir in the mushrooms and sauté until they start to brown and become tender, approximately 3-4 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium, then add the shallots and garlic, cooking until the shallots are tender. Finally, season with the remaining salt and pepper for a delightful taste.
In the skillet, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Sprinkle the flour over the mixture of mushrooms and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Deglaze the skillet with the wine, stirring to release any bits that may have stuck to the skillet.
Add the cream and oregano to the skillet and let it simmer. Put the scallops and any juices back in the skillet. Simmer again and then remove from heat.
Set the broiler to high and evenly distribute the contents among four shallow stoneware dishes.
Place 3 scallops in each dish, then generously sprinkle them with Comte cheese. Broil until the cheese turns a golden brown and starts to bubble, which should take approximately 3 minutes. Serve this delectable dish while it’s still hot.
What do you eat with Coquilles St. Jacques?
You can serve the coquilles as an appetizer; however, serve two scallops instead.
Or, enjoy them as a first course or as a light lunch with a light green salad on the side.
Rich in flavor, a mixed green salad or steamed spinach is an appropriate side dish to go alongside the scallops.
I also will recommend a chilled glass of your favorite white wine: Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, or Chenin Blanc, some of my suggestions, to be enjoyed alongside the Coquilles St. Jacques. The balance of the two is fantastic.
And as with anything you cook with wine, make sure it is the wine you will enjoy with your family and guests.
A good wine always makes a great dish when cooked with it.
Substitutes and additions
For those who prefer a dairy-free alternative, you can substitute the heavy cream with coconut cream. It provides a rich, creamy texture without the dairy.
As for the cheese, many dairy-free cheeses are available in the market today. A vegan mozzarella or vegan parmesan cheese could do the trick.
Adding a touch of lemon zest to the scallops before broiling can add a refreshing twist to the dish. Also, for a bit of heat, consider adding a sprinkle of red pepper flakes to the mushroom and shallot mixture.
If you’re not a fan of scallops, this dish could also be made with shrimp or chunks of a firm white fish like cod or halibut. Just adjust the cooking time accordingly.
Remember, the key to a successful recipe substitution or addition is maintaining the original recipe’s balance of flavors.
Leftover Coquilles St. Jacques can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. However, consuming them fresh is always the most desirable for the best taste and texture. If you must store them, reheat them gently in the oven to maintain the quality of the scallops.
As for freezing, it’s generally not recommended. When frozen after cooking, scallops may become rubbery and lose their delicate flavor upon thawing and reheating.
The creamy mushroom sauce may also separate or become grainy after freezing. Therefore, it’s best to enjoy this delightful French classic fresh and avoid freezing the leftovers.
Can you make this dish ahead of time?
Yes, you can.
Follow the recipe to divide the scallops evenly in your serving dishes. Add the mushroom wine sauce to it. Do not add the cheese.
At this point, cover it lightly with foil or plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator for up to a day.
I recommend placing your serving dishes on the cookie sheet, thus eliminating any chance of spillage when you are ready to remove them from the refrigerator.
When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 350F. Remove the foil of the plastic wrap and place the cookie sheet with the serving dishes in the warm oven for 20 minutes. Add the cheese and lightly brown it, and start to bubble.
Frequently Asked Questions
What if I can’t get fresh scallops?
If fresh scallops are not available, frozen scallops can be used as a substitute. Make sure to thaw them before use thoroughly, and pat them dry to remove any excess moisture. This will ensure proper searing and prevent a watery sauce.
Can I make Coquilles St. Jacques without wine?
You can substitute the wine with a good quality vegetable or chicken broth. It’s worth noting that the alcohol in the wine cooks off during the cooking process, leaving only the flavorful essence behind.
Can I use a different type of cheese?
Comte cheese is traditional in this dish, but if it’s not available, you can use a good quality Gruyere or a mature Cheddar. The key is to ensure that the cheese melts well and has a robust flavor to complement the scallops and the creamy sauce
Can I omit the mushrooms?
While mushrooms add to the flavor and texture of the dish, if you’re not a fan, you can certainly omit them. Increase the quantity of scallops or consider using another vegetable like zucchini or bell peppers.
Is there a gluten-free version of this recipe?
To make this recipe gluten-free, you can substitute the flour with a gluten-free version or use cornstarch as a thickening agent. Remember to ensure all other ingredients used, including the broth and cream, are certified gluten-free.
If you enjoyed this Coquille St. Jacques, look at some of my other recipes:
This Coquilles St. Jacques recipe is beautiful to prepare any time of the year. The perfect Valentine’s Day dinner, date night, family night, or just because.
Equipment used to make this delicious Coquilles St. Jacques recipe.
Coquilles Saint Jacques
- 12 medium sea scallops
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 ounces mushrooms, chopped
- 2 shallots, minced
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 cup dry white wine
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
- ¼ cup Comte cheese, freshly grated
- Blot and dry the sea scallops.
- Season with ¼ teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Sear the scallops on both sides for about 1-2 minutes per side, flipping once. When easily lifted with a pair of cooking tongs, transfer to a plate.
- Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in the skillet. Stir in the mushrooms and sauté until they begin to brown and soften, about 3-4 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium, add the shallots and garlic and cook until the shallots are tender. Season with the remaining salt and pepper.
- Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in the skillet. Sprinkle the flour over the mushrooms mixture and cook stirring constantly for 1 minute. Deglaze the skillet with the wine, stirring to loosen any bits that stock to the skillet.
- Stir in the cream and oregano and bring to a simmer. Return the scallops and any accumulated juices to the skillet. Return to a simmer and remove the skillet from the heat.
- Preheat the broiler to high.
- Evenly divide among four shallow stoneware dishes.
- Nestle 3 scallops into each dish. Sprinkle each dish with some of the Comte cheese. Broil until the cheese is browned and bubbling, 3 minutes. Serve hot.
Can you make this dish ahead of time?Yes, you can. Follow the recipe to divide the scallops evenly in your serving dishes. Add the mushroom wine sauce to it. Please don’t add the cheese. At this point, could you cover it lightly with foil or plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator for up to a day?
- I recommend placing your serving dishes on the cookie sheet, thus eliminating any chance of spillage when you are ready to remove them from the refrigerator.
- When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 350F. Remove the foil of the plastic wrap and place the cookie sheet with the serving dishes in the warm oven for 20 minutes. Add the cheese and lightly brown it and start to bubble.
Giangi’s Kitchen provides nutritional information, but these figures should be considered estimates, as a registered dietician does not calculate them.
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Originally published on October 25, 2019. Updated on October 3, 2023.