Saturday, August 1, 2015


Last week, to mark the festival of Santiago, I showed a heap of scallop shells, symbol of the pilgrims to the shrine of St. James in Santiago de Compostela (Galicia, northwest Spain). Since medieval times, pilgrims collected the scallop shells to wear on their belts to show they had completed the arduous journey.

All those empty shells made me want to fill them up! I used to buy fresh scallops at my local Mediterranean fish market (and saved many of the shells). But, locally-fished scallops are a rarity nowadays. So I bought frozen scallops at a big supermarket.

Frozen scallops include the white muscle and red coral.
They came in 250-gram packets (about seven to a package), cleaned and including both the white muscle and the red coral. The label indicated the scallops were distributed by a Galician outfit—but their source was the Irish Sea in the northeast Atlantic.

Top scallops with a sofrito and crumbs and cook under the broiler until browned.

This is a typical Galician way with scallops, which are called conchas peregrinas or vieiras in Spanish (in French, they are coquilles St. Jacques, or St. James’s shells). Put two or three scallops in each shell. Top with a savory onion-bacon mixture and breadcrumbs, then gratin them under the broiler. (If you haven’t got scallop shells, place the scallops in small ramekins.)

Serve, accompanied by bread, as a starter. Serve scallops with a crisp white wine from Rias Baixas, Galicia, made with Albariño grapes.

Serve scallops with a crisp Albariño wine.

Scallops, Galician Style
Vieiras a la Gallega

Serves 6 as a first course.

1 pound frozen scallops, thawed
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
¼ cup olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove minced garlic
3 slices bacon, chopped (2 ounces)
¼ cup white wine
2 teaspoons pimentón (paprika)
Pinch of hot pimentón
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
Salt and pepper
2/3 cup fresh bread crumbs

Pat the scallops dry. If they are very large, they can be sliced in half. Place them in a bowl with the lemon juice.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a skillet and sauté the onion, garlic and bacon on a medium heat until onion is softened, about 10 minutes.

Add the wine and cook until partially reduced. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the two kinds of pimentón, parsley, salt and pepper.

Drizzle oil over crumbs before broiling.
Divide the scallops between 6 scallop shells or individual ramekins. Put a spoonful of the onion mixture on top of the scallops in each shell. Sprinkle with the bread crumbs. Drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil over the scallops.

Set the shells or ramekins on a broiler pan and place the pan under the broiler until scallops are bubbling and tops lightly browned, about 6 minutes.


  1. Try pesto instead of sofrito. Or you could do both, and have some with a red topping and others with a green topping.

  2. David: The Galician sofrito is called "rustrido." This is just onions and bacon--no tomatoes--altho the pimentón makes it reddish. Personally, I don't think I'd like pesto with the scallops, but I remember fondly the old-fashioned French way with coquilles, with wine and cream and maybe a cheese gratin on top.

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