Scallop Gratin – When it Comes to Scallops, Dry is Good

As far as I’m concerned, a simple gratin is the most delicious way to cook fresh scallops. The technique is infinitely adaptable, and as long as you’re keeping an eye on things during the broiler step, not a lot can go wrong. In fact, the only real way to screw this recipe up would be to use the wrong scallops.

And by “wrong,” I mean any that have been soaked in a preservative brine. These are easy to identify, as they’re usually sitting in a pool of milky liquid. What you want are usually sold as wild “day-boat,” “diver,” or “dry-pack” scallops. They are really expensive, and worth every penny.

Brined scallops have an unpleasant aftertaste, leak out tons of water, and shrink down to nothing. Other than that, they’re great. Ideally you’re getting your scallops fresh, but frozen will work, as long as the ingredient label says nothing but “scallops.” You’ll also want to thaw them slowly, and pat dry thoroughly before using.

This is a great dish for parties, as you can prep your ramekins ahead of time, and then pop them in the oven when you’re ready. I can’t give exact times, since this will depend on the size of your scallops, and dish, but just start in a nice hot oven for a few minutes, and then finish under the broiler, until browned and just cooked through. When the scallops spring back to the touch, they should be done.

Like I said in the video, if you’re not confident cooking seafood, and/or haven’t worked with scallops before, this gratin is a great place to start. I hope you give it a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 2 portions:
1/4 cup crème fraiche
1 teaspoon lemon zest
Pinch of cayenne
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup decent white wine
8 fresh scallops (mine were trimmed, but if need be, pull off any “feet,” which are tough, small pieces of muscle sometimes attached to the side of the scallop)
2 tablespoon melted butter, plus more as needed
2 tsp chopped fresh tarragon
2 tablespoon finely grated Parmesan
French bread to dip