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Seared Scallops with Wine-Braised Leeks

Seared Scallops with Wine-Braised Leeks


The other day I stopped by Free Range Fish for some of the spectacular scallops they get directly from the dive boat every day. About 10 - 12 to a pound, these babies are silky and sweet.  J's Oyster Bar up the street serves them raw with a squeeze of lime -- an addictive treat, and one that really brings home the meaning of the term "food porn."

For another great way to prepare scallops, see Seared Sea Scallops with Roasted Pears and Honey Butter.

This preparation is simple and very tasty, and showcases, rather than masking or distracting from, the fresh goodness of the scallops. The scallops are seared for a few seconds and then perched atop little nests of the creamy braised leeks, which is flavored with tarragon. A great appetizer with one or two on the plate, or, with 3 or 4 and paired with some plain white rice and a salad, a nice casual supper dish. Serve with a crusty French bread and a crisp dry white wine, or possibly with prosecco.

Seared Scallops with Wine-Braised Leeks

1 lb diver scallops (about 12 scallops)
1 large leek, white and pale green parts only
1 C dry white wine
1 chicken bullion cube
2 T butter
1/2 C heavy cream
1/2 tsp salt
2 T fresh tarragon, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
flour for dredging
salt, hot sauce, lemon juice, to taste

Trim the bottom of the leek and cut the leek crosswise into segments about 2-1/2" long. Cut each segment in half lengthwise. Wash any grit from the leeks, keeping the half-cylinder segements intact. Using a sharp straight-bladed knife (I use a rectangular-bladed Japanese vegetable knife for this), cut the leeks into sticks about  1/16 - 1/8" wide by 2-1/2" long. There should be 3 to 4 loosely packed cups.

Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the wine, bullion cube and leeks. Stir and toss the leeks for a minute to coat with the butter and then cover tightly, lower heat and braise for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the leeks are very tender.

Drain the braised leeks and return the braising liquid to the pot. Add the cream, stir, raise the heat to medium high and reduce the liquid by about half.

While the liquid is reducing, wash the scallops and dry them well. Place them in a 1-gallon food-storage bag with the 1/2 tsp salt and about a cup of flour. Shake well to coat. Remove the scallops from the bag (discard bag) and lay them out on a plate to rest for at least 10 minutes.

When the cream mixture has reduced, add the tarragon, garlic and braised leeks to the pot. Stir, correct seasoning with salt, hot sauce and a squeeze or two of lemon juice and keep warm until the scallops are ready.

Heat 1 T butter and 1 T olive oil in a large heavy skillet until very hot but not smoking. Cook the scallops for 1 minute, then turn and cook another 30 seconds. Remove to a warm plate.

To serve, place mounds of the leeks on a plate and top each mound with a scallop. Garnish with tarragon leaves if desired.


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that look so good, and those smelts, too! you do great fish.

Now if I could just find good fish here in Memphis. And, Stephen, where in the world do you find nice leeks. What I get here usually have no more than an inch of white.

Scrumptious. This dish says to me either, "Albarino" or "White Burgundy."

I'll give it a try this weekend. Cheers, beau

Man, this lovely, so very lovely!

I love your photography, really brings out the beauty in what can be hard to shoot - cooked food that is not vertically engineered within an inch of it's life!


You have my stomach growling and I haven't even had breakfast yet.

As usual, I love your blog.

Happy New Year, Stephen. Keep up your good work.

Gorgeous! You're making me hungry...



Beautiful as ever Stephen. Thanks for sharing one of my all time favorite fruits from the sea.

what can i add more?
bellissimo, bravo, bis! :*

Yum - is making my mouth water!

Really gorgeous.

Stephen, i'm gonna try this out next week. I'll probably add some cauliflower along with the leeks for more of a vegetable variety and braise it in wine and butter as you have done. Very nice!

Stephen, this looks delicious. It combines two things I love -- scallops and braised leeks. I hope you don't mind if I borrow your recipe for my next dinner party? Cheers!

Stephen, I'm literally drooling!

Your photography is SO beautiful. I'm sitting here at work now, just itching to get home so I can make this for dinner!

Steve, Could this be done without the cream? How would wine or broth do in its place?

Hi Jill...the answer is: absolutely! As a matter of fact, 99% of the time I used braised leeks I just use them as they are when the braising is finished -- I just plop a bed of them on the plate and top it with something...if not scallops, then pork medallions, sliced duck breast, grilled shrimp, etc. You'll love it that way. I just added cream to this one on a whim, for a little variation.

One caution...I would not suggest reducing the braising liquid as called for in the recipe...the bullion cube introduces a lot of salt to the pot, so if you reduce the liquid it will likely be too salty...the main reason for the reduction step in the recipe is to thicken the sauce...if the leeks without the cream are too wet just drain them in a small collander and find some other use for the excess braising liquid (which tastes too good to discard!).

We just made these leeks tonight, except we used beef stock instead, as we had no chicken stock on hand. They turned out so delicious! Thank you for the recipe.

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