Scallops with leek, tarragon and roe sauce

Scallops in the half shell will give a restaurant-style vibe to your next special dinner.
Scallops in the half shell will give a restaurant-style vibe to your next special dinner. Photo: Marcel Aucar

This dish is quite simple to make but has an elegant restaurant feel to it, perfect for a dinner party. Farmed scallops are almost always available, but you should be able to find beautiful wild scallops in late spring / early summer - just make sure they are fresh.

Ingredients

100g butter

extra virgin olive oil

1 large leek, finely sliced in half moons

1 clove garlic, finely sliced

salt flakes

freshly ground black pepper

12 extra-large scallops, in the shell with roe attached

5 sprigs tarragon, picked

2 handfuls fresh breadcrumbs, rubbed in olive oil

60ml dry vermouth or white wine

100g creme fraiche

1/2 lemon

Method

1. Add 40 grams of butter and a splash of oil to a small pot. Add the leek and garlic, season with salt and pepper and cook very slowly until softened, but not coloured - about 20 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, clean and trim the scallops, setting the shells and roe aside.

3. Lay the scallop shells on a baking tray and spoon the cooked leek in. Nestle the scallops on top, add some tarragon, season and finish with the oiled breadcrumbs.

4. Turn the oven grill to high and grill the scallops for three to five minutes - this will depend on the size of the scallops and the heat of your grill, but you want golden breadcrumbs and rare to medium-rare scallops.

5. While the scallops cook, in a small saucepan over high heat, quickly saute the roe in the remaining butter, season, add a splash of vermouth and bring to the boil. Immediately tip into a blender and blitz with the creme fraiche and a squeeze of lemon to taste - the consistency of the sauce will vary depending on how big or small the roes are, but this is not that important, it will be delicious either way. Check the seasoning and spoon over the scallops as soon as they come out of the oven. Garnish with tarragon leaves and serve.

Drink: A young riesling with good acid and a hint of sweetness.