"Historically, and still today, the scallop is regarded by the French as a delicacy," says France-Soir chef Jean-Paul Prunetti. "The common French ate them rarely and almost never at home because of their price. They're generally three times the price of a good Australian scallop and much bigger. We would normally eat only one, often on the shell. In France their cooking and presentation vary greatly, but originally they were served on the shell under a rich mornay, as were most crustaceans at the time. Scallops are often very sweet and, for me, the very best way to serve them is with little interference."
- 1 red capsicum, seeded, thickly sliced
- 1 fennel bulb, thickly sliced
- 1 carrot, peeled and thickly sliced
- 1 celery stalk, thickly sliced
- 2 golden shallots, thickly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, thickly sliced
- 1 fresh bay leaf
- 2 thyme sprigs
- 1 tsp dried mixed herbs
- 2 tbsp light olive oil
- 2 very ripe Roma or truss tomatoes (300gm), diced
- 200 gm prawn heads (from about 450gm prawns)
- 40 ml brandy
- 100 ml white wine
- 6 saffron threads
- 500 ml fish stock (2 cups)
- 1 small Desiree potato (100gm), peeled and diced
- 1 tsp tomato paste
- 200 ml pouring cream
- 100 gm Gruyère, finely grated
- 1 tbsp grapeseed oil
- 30 large scallops on the shell
- Finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, to serve
- 1Preheat oven to 200C. Sauté capsicum, fennel, carrot, celery, shallot, garlic and herbs in olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat until softened (8-10 minutes). Add tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until they break down (6-8 minutes).
- 2Meanwhile, roast prawn heads in oven in an ovenproof frying pan until lightly browned (12-15 minutes), then add to vegetables. Add brandy to pan the prawns were in, swirl to heat (10 seconds) and flamber with a stove lighter (be careful, flames will flare up). Deglaze pan with wine, then add to vegetables along with saffron and reduce by three-quarters (3-4 minutes). Add fish stock and potato, simmer until potato is very tender (45-50 minutes), then blend until smooth. Strain through a fine sieve, pressing to extract liquid, then return liquid to saucepan, add tomato paste and cook over medium-high heat until starting to thicken (12-15 minutes; be careful, sauce spits as it thickens). Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until very thick (15-20 minutes). Add cream and return to the boil, then whisk in cheese and keep warm.
- 3Heat a grill to its highest heat. Heat 2 tsp grapeseed oil in a frying pan over high heat, add half the scallops, season and cook without turning until golden (45 seconds to 1 minute). Remove from heat, turn, then just sear the other side so scallop is rare in the centre (10 seconds). Set aside and repeat with remaining oil and scallops
- 4Divide sauce among 6 gratin dishes or shallow ovenproof bowls, top with scallops golden side up, and place under grill until browned (1 minute).
Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.
Drink Suggestion: 2014 Domaine des Roches Neuves “L’Insolite” Saumur, Loire. Drink suggestion by Pierre Stock