Happy Valentine’s Day (February the fourteenth)

by Ted on February 14, 2006

This scallops dish is a lovely special dinner for two. It’s fast, delicious and impressive. It requires two pans (you’ll likely be happier if one is a non-nonstick 12-inch pan) and a few unusual ingredients, but nothing special-ordered. If you can stir, and you can measure out three minutes, you can make this. As a bonus, it leaves you with an open bottle of champagne to drink with dinner.

Reproduced from memory from the highly-recommended Les Halles Cookbook.

2 tablespoons butter
1 medium shallot, minced
1 cup fish stock (sold frozen at Whole Foods)
1/2 cup heavy cream

1 pound sea scallops (also sold frozen. They thaw in cold water in ten minutes), tendons removed, patted dry with paper towels, salted and peppered
1/2 cup champagne
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt and pepper

In the first pan (a medium non-stick pan works well, but it doesn’t really matter), melt one tablespoon butter over medium heat. Cook shallot until soft, approximately 3 minutes. Add fish stock and reduce to 1/2 cup. Add cream, bring to boil, then lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Heat second pan over high heat (a 12-inch cast iron skillet works very well for me). Melt butter and place scallops flat on the pan in a single layer. Cook them without moving for 3 minutes, then flip them with a pair of tongs and cook the other side without moving for 3 more minutes. Remove scallops to a plate and cover with aluminum foil.

Add champagne to hot pan in which you cooked the scallops, scraping up the leftovers at the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Reduce until champagne coats the back of the spoon.

Add the hot cream to the pan with the champagne and briefly bring to boil. Remove from heat and add lemon juice. Salt and pepper to taste (I’ve found that the salt and pepper from the scallops and broth is sufficient, but that’s just me). Distribute scallops to serving plates, pour sauce over scallops and serve.



Barry Freed 02.14.06 at 12:07 pm

Happy Valentine’s Day (February the fourteenth)

Heartless bastard.


Clayton 02.14.06 at 1:03 pm

The dish sounds great.

But, I’ll have to second Barry. Why don’t we have a holiday that celebrates being rich, or beautiful, or well-liked, or not alone, or…. wait, that’s St. Valentine’s Day! (And, no, I’m not a bitter, lonely academic with too much time on his hands; I should be prepping for a lecture).


Ted 02.14.06 at 1:44 pm

The War on Valentine’s Day is joined.


Tim 02.14.06 at 1:59 pm

Put the Saint back in Saint Valentine’s Day! If ever there was a holiday more crassly commercial in its celebration of unabashed concupiscence, I can’t think of one.


Loren Larkin 02.14.06 at 2:57 pm

Sounds delicious and easy! Altho’ I already have tonight’s feast taken care of, I will definitely give this one a try one night. Thanks for sharing.


Elf Sternberg 02.14.06 at 4:44 pm

Sounds delicious! But I’m still trying to figure out which ingredient(s) you consider “unusual.” Other than the champagne, I’ve got every one of those in my house already.


Rob 02.14.06 at 5:25 pm

Because in many places trying to find fish stock or even shallots requires a trip to a speciality store over 20 miles away.


Ted 02.14.06 at 5:36 pm

I was thinking of the fish stock in particular. (If you have it in your house already, you’re probably the kind of cook who should be posting mroe recipes!)


Scott 02.14.06 at 10:10 pm

I’m spending Valentine’s Day in my usual manner: curled up in a drunken, naked fetal ball on my living room floor listening to depressing Scandanavian jazz (this isn’t a night for ska).


Matt Weiner 02.14.06 at 11:49 pm

Speaking of the war on Valentine’s Day — my God, Clayton, is that for real?


Clayton 02.15.06 at 12:56 am

Well, it’s not entirely fake. I basically cut and pasted some of Splotchy O’Reilly’s rantings about Christmas from the NY Post, made the necessary substitutions, and waited to see what would happen. The only bit I added was about the metric system. I was hoping some enthusiastic Put-the-‘St’-back-in-‘St. Valentine’s Day’! folk would come by. Originally, I wanted to write a really hi-larious letter to the Dallas paper about how secularists and homosexuals had ruined Valentine’s Day but I realized nothing good could possibly come of it and I have no talent whatsoever as a satirical writer. Glad to see that the bit about throat punching didn’t give it away.


Rob 02.15.06 at 5:58 am

This was really good. Thanks


Matt Weiner 02.15.06 at 10:31 am

Clayton, that didn’t, but the bit about Lupercus should have. Nicely done.

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