Make Ahead

Scallop Mousse with Fresh Basil

October  4, 2022
0 Ratings
  • Prep time 45 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Makes 4 to 6 plated first course servings -- (or about 20 "baby" scallops [in Madeleine pans ]for passed hors d'oeuvre, or fills one copper scallop shell for a stationary selection on a cocktail buffet)
Author Notes

Yes, this is the same Scallop Mousse I served at a party at Julia Child's house many years ago now - and that she liked so much she directed George Berkowitz (the owner of Legal Seafoods at the time) to try it first of all the hors d'oeuvres in the room. You can use any type of scallop for this recipe. The tiny bay scallops are the most economical, but you will get the most intense scallop flavor if you use cape scallops (from Nantucket or Montauk). Try this mousse for your next party, either as an hors d'oeuvre or a plated first course, when you want something just a little different, but really smooth and not too wild. The basil really helps all the flavors pop. —ChefJune

What You'll Need
  • 1 1/4 pounds dry pack scallops (may be sea, bay or cape scallops), poached and cooled
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
  • 1 large shallot, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 packet unflavored gelatin, dissolved in 1/4 cup dry French Vermouth
  • 3/4 cup homemade mayonnaise made with fresh lime juice
  • 2/3 cup crème fraîche (can sub sour cream)
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salf
  • a few grinds of fresh white pepper
  • 6 drops hot pepper sauce (I use Louisiana Hot Sauce)
  1. In the food processor fitted with the metal blade, chop the basil fine. Remove and set aside.
  2. With the motor running, drop the chives and shallot through the feed tube, and process until very finely chopped. Add mayonnaise and pulse three times to mix. Now add all the ingredients except the basil and the gelatin mixture, and pulse five or six times to incorporate well, then process until smooth.
  3. Add basil and gelatin mixture, and pulse several times, to blend thoroughly.
  4. Pour or spoon mixture into the prepared mold(s) you have chosen. [I use standard Madeleine pans for plated first course, miniature Madeleine pans for the really tiny scallops that fit on crackers.]
  5. Chill until firm, about 1 1/2 hours minimum for the large mold. (The "babies" take almost no time at all!)
  6. Unmold onto appropriate serving dish, and garnish with fresh basil leaves or sprigs. (I like to serve the "babies" on a Bremner wafer, on top of a small basil leaf.)
  7. Wine Tip: The wine that consistently compliments this mousse to perfection is Vision Cellars’ California White – a juicy blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris. If you’d like a sparkler, I’d choose Iron Horse Wedding Cuvée, my favorite domestic bubbly.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • ChefJune
  • dymnyno
  • lorigoldsby
  • Lizthechef
  • smargot
30+ years a chef, educator, writer, consultant, "winie," travel guide/coordinator

15 Reviews

ChefJune November 25, 2013
FWIW, imho, Noilly-Prat vermouth has undergone an unpleasant taste change (been sold, too). I now use Dolin Dry Vermouth for cooking, and especially for this mousse.
dymnyno September 18, 2012
I love the picture of you with Julia Child on her Les Dames d'Escoffier birthday page. Is this that recipe that you made for her?
ChefJune September 25, 2012
This is it! and thank you. :)
Equator180 January 20, 2012
Why are you saying it doesn't matter the type of scallop? If this is the case then the taste doesn't involve scallop as there are most defiantly differences in the taste of scallop, fresh or frozen in either Bay, Cape or Sea Scallop, weather they are natural (dry, no chemical to make them absorb water...nitrates) or wet, (mostly U.S. frozen product where there are nitrates are used to make the scallop absorb water). On the taste scale the bay scallop is at the bottom... a Kia if you want where a fresh, dry, sea scallop is a Rolls, so my point is if there is no difference int he scallop used why not change all the other ingredients? This makes absolutely no sense to me!
ChefJune January 20, 2012
Why are you telling me how to write my recipe? You are correct that I should have mentioned the importance of using dry scallops. The chemicals not only don't taste good, they aren't healthy to eat.

Of course there is some difference in the flavor intensity of the different types of scallops. However, I'm a cooking teacher, and I teach around the USA. Cooks who live in central Oklahoma are lucky to find frozen scallops. And not everyone feels they can afford day boat cape scallops when they're going to chop them up for mousse. What you misunderstood, Equator180, is that the recipe can be successfully made with all three types of scallops. Will the mousse taste more intensely scallop-y if made with $24-a-pound Sea Scallops? Certainly. Will the mousse be bland and tasteless if made with bay scallops? Not at all.
lorigoldsby April 28, 2011
I like the idea of dissolving the gelatin in the vermouth! And good call on the Noilly! I will also try the Iron Horse Cuvee--thanks for that recommendation.
Lizthechef April 25, 2011
How did I miss this?! I do a salmon mousse but this looks even better...
ChefJune January 11, 2011
Hey! What happened to the picture I submitted with my mousse... the scallop shell presentation? How can I replace that weird picture with the way I intend the recipe to show?
ChefJune January 11, 2011
Oops. I just found my photo and put it back. Sorry.
smargot January 10, 2011
my fiance made this for our new year's eve party. we both tasted it before he added the gelatin dissolved in vermouth, and it was delicious. but after he added the vermouth, he hated it. i still thought it was okay, but it definitely had an unpleasant aftertaste. maybe something was wrong with our vermouth? i was just normal martini & rossi dry. in any case, next time we'll use white wine.

instead of using madeleine pans, we just let it set in a bowl and then used a melon baller to make bite-sized portions and served it in phyllo cups with a tiny bit of roe on top for color.
ChefJune January 11, 2011
Martini & Rossi Vermouth, imho, does not work for any recipe. It has a strange taste. I ONLY use Noilly Prat Vermouth. There is no weird taste to anything I make with that. I only use that Vermouth for Martinis, as well... or for that matter, anything else. I'm sorry you had that experience.
ChefJune October 2, 2012
I have to add here that I no longer use Noilly Prat vermouth for anything. The company has been sold and although it LOOKS the same, the vermouth is quite a lot sweeter than in previous times. These days the best DRY vermouth, imho, is Dolin Dry. (there is also a Dolin Blanc, but that is also too sweet.)
ChefJune November 27, 2010
Thanks, lapadia.
lapadia November 27, 2010
Mmmm, Mmmm good ChefJune! Lovely presentation...
dymnyno July 11, 2010
I can really imagine this made in little madeleine pans...would be a great and classy first course! (but you already knew that)