Seared Scallops with Spring Onion and Tarragon Cream

By • April 13, 2010 89 Comments

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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&MThe Editors

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.

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