Coquille Saint-Patrice

This dish came about after I made mussels with garlic and Guinness for St. Patrick's Day. There was plenty of the fishy, creamy Guiness broth left over, so I decided to make and add a caramel to it in order to balance the flavours. I did this while aerating the broth in a blender, which produced a great foam which I used to dress the seared scallops. Obviously this isn't the sort of meal you make every night and I enjoyed myself preparing a dish with a fine dining level of presentation. But it tasted absolutely fantastic. The flavour balance between the umami of the seafood, the sweetness of the caramel and the bitterness of the stout was really delicate.

Ingredients (2 portions)

6 scallops*
1 cup seafood, Guiness & cream broth (to make this broth, see my recipe for Mussels with Garlic and Guinness)
100 gm butter
100 gm brown sugar
30 ml vegetable oil
garnish (I used radish and coriander)

* I used the fantastic Loch Fyne scallops in this dish.


Bring the seafood, Guiness & cream broth briefly to the boil and then immediately remove from the heat.

Pass it through a muslin cloth to filter pieces of shallot etc. as well as any grit left behind by the mussels.
Pour the strained broth into a liquidiser, in order to aerate it. At this stage it will have a dull, creamy grey appearance.

Now blitz the broth while slowly adding cubes of very cold butter to give the liquid a glossy finish, a process called "monter au beurre".

As well as creating a shiny broth, this process also adds plenty of air and turns the previously flat sauce into a vibrant foam.
In the meantime, heat the brown sugar in a stainless steel pan to create a simple caramel. Stir steadily as the sugar crystals turn into a honey-coloured liquid.

When the caramel has turned into a golden coloured liquid, add some butter and cream to stop the cooking process. As you fold in the butter and cream the caramel will become smooth and creamy and turn into a fudge.
Now slowly add the caramel while continuing to blitz the broth and regularly tasting the result.

If you get the balance right you will have a sauce that is wonderfully balanced between being gently bitter from the Guinness and pleasantly sweet from the caramel, with an underlying savoury umami taste from the mussel juice.

When I made this, I had a lot of fun preparing the plate for the scallops. I wanted to serve the dish as it might be served in a formal restaurant, so I added some classy touches.

I had some radishes that needed using so I cut some very thin slices and arranged them into overlapping steps as you can see. I then decorated them with a coriander leaf rubbed with chilli oil and cut the radish trimmings into a neat brunoise to scatter around the plate.
Once the sauce foam is ready, you can cook the scallops.

I was once told that really fresh scallops need no more than 10 seconds each side in a hot pan. But you must be careful and should cook them for longer unless you are completely comfortable with the source and freshness of your molluscs.

Despite the fact that my scallops were bought from a highly reputable fishmonger, I think at least 20 seconds on the first side...
and a minimum of 10 seconds on the other side is advisable, just to be on the safe side.

You can serve the dish however you chose - perhaps in a small dish or on individual spoons.

I placed my scallops in triangular fashion on a round plate.
Give the sauce one last very brief blitz before taking the foam to top each scallop.

Serve and eat immediately.

Later on when you look at the cup containing the unused creamy caramel you'll find it's turned into a chalky, fudge-like substance.
Break it out, crumble, and eat it with your cappuccino.

Mmmm. Delicious.