Seared Scallops with Spring Onion and Tarragon Cream

By • April 13, 2010 • 84 Comments



Author Notes: About a year ago I had a wonderful dish of halibut cheeks served with grilled baby leeks and asparagus and a spring onion soubise at one of our favorite Providence restaurants, La Laiterie. That soubise has haunted me, and I’ve been waiting for just the right opportunity to try my hand at making a similar sauce at home. When this challenge was announced, I thought the super sweet Bomster scallops (from Stonington, CT) that we get at our local farmers market would pair beautifully, and happily I was right. The delicate onion flavor, in this instance enhanced with a hint of anise-y tarragon and the subtle tang of (you guessed it) crème fraiche, played really well with the caramelized scallops, and the pale green color of the sauce whispered “spring.” - lastnightsdinnerlastnightsdinner

Food52 Review: Lastnightsdinner's scallop recipe proves that when it comes to seafood, less is often more. With just a few simple ingredients (spring onions, tarragon, butter, flour and milk), she creates a zippy, creamy sauce that's the perfect foil for sweet flesh of the scallops. And her technique of drying the scallops in the refrigerator before searing them makes for an impeccably caramelized crust. - A&MA&M

Serves 4 as a main course, more as a starter

  • 1 pound wild dry sea scallops
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • 1 bunch spring onions, about ½ lb.
  • 2 tablespoons fresh tarragon leaves
  • grapeseed or other neutral oil
  • 2 tablespoons crème fraiche
  • fresh chives for garnish
  1. Place the scallops on a plate or platter and refrigerate, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
  2. Trim the spring onions, separating the green tops from the small bulbs. Dice the bulbs and roughly chop the greens.
  3. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the chopped spring onion bulbs and a pinch of salt, reduce the heat to low, and cook 20-25 minutes, until very soft. Add the green tops, toss through, and cook an additional 5-10 minutes until soft but still bright green. Sprinkle the flour over and cook for a minute or two, just until the raw flour smell is gone. Add the milk, raising the heat to medium, and cook briefly until thickened. Add the tarragon leaves and stir through, then turn off the heat and pour the mixture into a blender. Puree until very smooth, then return to the pan over low heat, cooking until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
  4. Pour a thin film of grapeseed oil in the bottom of a sauté pan and warm over medium-high heat until shimmering. Carefully add the scallops a few at a time, being careful not to crowd the pan, and sear them just couple of minutes per side until they are nicely browned and caramelized - they should release from the pan easily once they’re ready, and they should still be a little jiggly in the middle, as they will continue to cook off the heat. Set aside and keep warm.
  5. Taste the sauce and adjust salt if necessary. Whisk in the crème fraiche off the heat until the mixture is smooth, then spoon a little of the sauce into the bottom of shallow, warmed bowls, place scallops on top, and garnish with fresh chives.

Tags: savory, seafood, shellfish

Comments (84) Questions (2)

Default-small
Default-small
Default-small

10 days ago stephanieRD

The sauce is simply AMAZING. Made this for my love's birthday dinner last night, and he loved it. First time cooking scallops every, so I would say I conquered new culinary ground and it exceeded my expectations. Freezing the rest of the sauce and going to use it on something for dinner next week- maybe a good white fish? Shrimp? Possibilities are endless.

Stringio

3 months ago Mark Eckstrom

Amazing recipe. I substituted leeks for the spring onions and it was a success!

Default-small

over 1 year ago Sashinka

OMG! My husband just served me these and they are scrump-dilee-icitious!!! Thanks so much for sharing this recipe. He's already offered to make these for his parents, so they couldn't have been too much bother.

Default-small

over 1 year ago Davaritel

I guess it goes without saying, but this a sper tasty dish. I had to make a few substitutions though: green onions instead of spring onions; skim milk instead of whole milk and crema mexicana instead of creme fraiche. Nevertheless, it was outstanding dish that I will make very often. The tarragon sauce was really amazing and adds some nice, fun color to the plate. Thanks for sharing!

Default-small

over 1 year ago MarieH

I love this recipe and have made it several times as a company meal. Tarragon is a new herb for me and now I have it planted and cannot get enough. Thanks!!

Default-small

almost 2 years ago ChefFace

Thank you for this recipe. I served these as my main dish with citrus spritzed asparagus and some rosemary foccacia, huge hit. I didn't change a thing. LOVELY!

Default-small

almost 2 years ago noahfactor

My girlfriend and I made this last night and it was amazing! The sauce perfectly complimented the scallops. And the recipe was not too hard, it was the first time either of us had cooked scallops or made a cream sauce before and it all came out great.

Default-small

about 2 years ago neighome

I finished each plate with a small sprinkle of fennel pollen. My guests loved it!

Default-small

about 2 years ago 2nd Floor Chef

Made this last night but I used regular green onions and I must say that the cream sauce is to die for I will be making this again

Default-small

over 2 years ago chrissyleer

I found the sauce bland, but that may be because I used scallions. I think a squeeze of lemon juice may have helped!

Default-small

over 2 years ago chrissyleer

I found the sauce bland, but that may be because I used scallions. I think a squeeze of lemon juice may have helped!

Default-small

over 2 years ago oldkitcheninflatbush

I used watercress. i don't like tarragon. Worked great with scallops. Served it with a simple risotto. It was very good. Thanks.

Default-small

over 2 years ago oldkitcheninflatbush

I used watercress. i don't like tarragon. Worked great with scallops. Served it with a simple risotto. It was very good. Thanks.

Sdc12568

almost 3 years ago Laurenzim

This was a fantastic dish and beautiful to plate!!!

Img_2825

almost 3 years ago phyllis

I cooked this for dinner tonight for my adult children and it was a huge hit. Not the right time of year to get spring onions so I used leeks and scallions. It's a really lovely dish. Thank you.

Default-small

about 3 years ago MonicaL

I'm very excited to try these out for dinner tomorrow. Can you recommend sides to go with this? And how do you ideally present the scallops. As a stand-alone course. In the picture it is by itself so was hoping for some guidance. Thanks!

Default-small

over 3 years ago amreiskitchen

I made this a few nights ago and as everyone has already said, the sauce is to die for. My husband went bananas ha nearly ate the plate! The perfect foil for so many things and so simple. Definitely a keeper.

Default-small

over 3 years ago cookie27

great recipe for scallops! but the cream sauce is to die for... i've used it in lots of ways, even spread on multigrain bread, covered with a slice of cheese and broiled for lunch. yummm. i'm tempted to eat it with a spoon!

Lnd_jen

over 3 years ago lastnightsdinner

Thank you! I'm so glad you liked it!

Default-small

over 3 years ago cookie27

forgot to mention... this sauce is great with steamed artichokes too!

Sit2

over 3 years ago Sam1148

This is why I think it's such a great recipe..that shouldn't just be limited to scallops.
It works in many ways. I used leftovers on asparagus and it keeps beautifully in the 'fridge for a day or so..plus the color makes it look great on a plate.

Sit2

over 3 years ago Sam1148

I want to thank you. I made this last it and it was a major hit, a keeper.
I couldn't find really good scallops, so I used up some vac-paced talipa and cooked them with clarified butter and a crust of "Wondera Flour" and some drops of lemon/olive oil to the sauce after plating.
Well done!

Lnd_jen

over 3 years ago lastnightsdinner

Thank you so much! And glad to hear the sauce worked with other seafood - your prep sounds lovely!

Default-small

over 3 years ago hazeddazed

making this tonight! so excited!