Coquilles Saint-Jacques; Santiago de Compostela

Looking for something a bit fancy and a bit decadent for New Year’s Eve?

Coquilles Saint-Jacques perhaps?

I love scallops but am not fond of the coral.  Remove it or not as suits you.

If you can get scallops in their shells use the shells for a lovely presentation.

Be careful not to overcook the scallops – they can go from tender to tough very quickly.

This used to be very decadent .

Now it’s only slightly decadent.

I cut back on the heavy cream, butter and cheese.

I actually prefer the crème fraiche but you can even be more health conscious and use yogurt.

Still…  I only do it once a year.

Coquilles Saint-Jacques

Total time: 30 minutes


  • 12oz (360gr) sea scallops
  • 2/3 cup (5oz, 150ml) white wine
  • 2/3 cup (5oz, 150ml) chicken stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3oz (90gr) mushrooms, trimmed, sliced
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 1 tbs flour
  • 1/3 cup (3oz, 90ml) crème fraiche, cream, or Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup (2oz, 60ml) shredded Gruyère cheese
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs

Coquilles Saint Jacques


  • Bring white wine, chicken stock and bay leaf to boil in large skillet. 
  • Add scallops and cook until just opaque, about 5 minutes.
  • Remove and put into two individual baking dishes (or scallop shells) or 1 larger baking dish. 
  • Boil cooking liquid until reduced by half.  Remove bay leaf. 
  • Melt 1 tbs butter in medium skillet over medium heat.  Add shallots and sauté 5 minutes.
  • Add mushrooms and sauté until golden, about 6 minutes more.
  • Add shallots and mushrooms to scallops, dividing evenly.
  • Melt remaining 1 tbs butter in saucepan.
  • When hot add flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
  • Reduce heat to low and slowly add in reduced cooking liquid, stirring constantly until thickened.
  • Add crème fraiche and heat through.
  • Pour sauce over scallop/mushrooms in baking dish(es).
  • Sprinkle with bread crumbs and cheese. 
  • Bake in 375F (190C) oven for 15 minutes, until hot and bubbly.  Serve.

Print Recipe

Coquilles Saint-Jacques, literally, means ‘the shell of St. James’.

The French call scallops ‘St. Jacques’ or ‘noix de St. Jacques’ (walnut of St. James), the ‘coquille’ being the shell they are attached to when fresh.

The shell is the symbol for the Galician city of Santiago de Compostela as well as for the Camino de Santiago, or Way of St. James. The shell can be seen to mark some of the more well-used pilgrims’ trail.

Santiago de Compostela was one of the more important pilgrimage destinations in the middle ages, and, as with any pilgrimage, the beginning was wherever one started and the trail was however one went. In modern times there are well-marked trails, hostels, campgrounds, refuges, etc.

There are several legends regarding the scallop shell, but all seem to involve the body of St. James arriving by a ship with no crew to the Galician coast and either the body or the rescuer or both ending up being covered in scallop shells – undamaged in the case of the body; unharmed in the case of the rescuer.

You can find more details about the Camino de Santiago and the legends here.

What all that has to do with a dish of scallops in wine, cream and cheese I haven’t  a clue but I do love to follow word trails.

Besides, we’ve been to Santiago and I have a gold scallop shell on a chain to prove it!

It’s a bit out of the way for a lot of travelers, but the cathedral and the Parador (where you can stay if you book far enough in advance) are both worth the visit.

Happy New Year!

Last update on December 30, 2015

3 thoughts on “Coquilles Saint-Jacques; Santiago de Compostela”

  1. Oh I love this dish! Another one I have not had in years. The husband will not eat shell fish, sigh, but this is a good reminder to make this when he is away for work. Then I could have the leftovers the next day too! Yummm.

  2. My daughter did the whole walk, just set off with no preparation. It was a struggle at first, took a month, did 800 kms, huge rewarding experience and she has her signed book and scallop she’ll to prove it.

  3. Ina, it’s one of those old restaurant classics that I love. And I always cook my personal fave’s when the hubs is gone lol

    kate, Wow! If she did it in a month she was moving! I’d love to do it, but I’d opt for the refuge / hotel route now LOL. I had friends do it a week at a time over a few years. Want to do it with me? (hahahaha)

Comments are closed.

Share via
Copy link