Legendary Dishes | Coquilles Saint-Jacques au Sauce (scallops with sauce)


Scallops in a pesto sauce with linquine.

From late October until mid-December every year the coastline of Calvados comes alive to the enigmatic sound of the great shell. The Festival of the Saint-Jacques Scallop Shell in Ouistreham and the Taste of the Sea at Port-en-Bessin are two of the highlights amidst numerous events along the Normandy coast.

The great scallop Saint-Jacques is a sustainable species and the fishers of the region want to keep it that way. They adhere to a strict regime that allows some areas to remain fallow to allow the creatures to reproduce and grow.

In 2018, when French and British boats clashed, the quote for French fishers in French terroritial water was 1800 kilos a day for a boat of 15 meters, 2000 kilos a day for a boat between 15 and 16 meters and 2200 kilos a day for more than 16 meters.

The French consume up 20,000 tonnes a year of the Saint-Jacques scallop, of which half are caught by Normandy fishers.

In 2002, in response to new World Trade Organisation regulations that did not distinquish between the sizes and varieties of scallops, Normandie Fraîcheur Mer obtained a ‘Red Label’ for their Coquilles Saint-Jacques. Dimitri Rogoff, a fisher of Port-en-Bessin and president of Normandie Fraîcheur Mer, said it was ‘the only way to get a quality recognised superior product of our fishery’. In 2009 the label was upgraded. Fisher Claude Beaufils said the label recognised the quality of his work, and the need to return quickly to port to guarantee the freshness and organoleptic superiority of the product.

The Label Rouge requires the shell to be fished at maturity (the size greater than or equal to 11 centimetres which corresponds to a minimum age of two years). The shell must be clean and intact (neither broken nor chipped, neither loose, nor split) and must be able to conserve water to survive. Boxes of shells are numbered and labelled to ensure traceability to the fishing boat and date of fishing.

‘Now, with the Label Rouge, we know what we have bought. For the nuts, it makes all the difference,’ said Frédéric Chevallet, director at Lequertier, a company that markets the unique scallops of Normandy. The arrival of Label Rouge Noix de coquille Saint-Jacques in 2009 allowed consumers to identify the great scallop of Normandy as an emblem of sustainable fishing, distinct from other Atlantic scallops.

The label can be withdrawn from fishers who do not follow the requirements.

The scallop is a source of calcium, iodine, magnesium, omega 3, phosphorus, vitamin B12 and zinc.

Coquille Saint-Jacques is popularily served in the shell accompanied by an assortment of aromatics. And there was a time that still lingers when these scallops were served in a sauce.

Here are some selections.


  • 32 scallop shells

Heat scallop shells in a warm oven.


  • 500 g linguine

Prepare pasta while shallots are frying.

Apple Sauce

  • 1 kg apples (from Calville, Clochard, Rainette), quartered
  • 250 g onions, minced
  • 200 ml cider
  • 50 g butter (beurre d’Isigny)

Bake the apples in a low oven until they are soft, press through a mesh or sieve to produce a compote.

Sweat the onions in the butter until they soften.

Add the cider and compote to the onions, reduce. Keep warm.

Shrimp Sauce

This recipe is also suitable for crab and crawfish.

  • 250 g shrimp meat, cut small
  • 150 g shallots
  • 120 ml white wine
  • 1 lemon, juice and zest
  • 15 g butter (beurre d’Isigny)
  • 15 g rapeseed oil
  • 5 g salt

Sauté shallots in butter and oil, deglaze with wine, less than this quantity if a thick sauce is preferred. Stir shrimp meat into shallot mixture, add lemon juice and zest and a little salt. Keep warm.

Pesto Sauce

  • 250 ml crème fraîche / sour cream
  • 150 g shallots
  • 150 ml white wine
  • 120 g basil leaves
  • 50 g pine nuts
  • 8 anchovy fillets
  • 30 g butter (beurre d’Isigny)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 15 g olive oil
  • 10 g black peppercorns

Place garlic and peppercorns in a mortar, pound with pestle, add anchovies, pound, add basil, pound, add pine nuts and oil, pound into a paste.

Sauté shallots in butter.

Deglaze shallots with wine, season and reduce. Add cream and pesto, reduce. Keep warm.


  • 16 scallops, corals and nuts
  • 30 g butter (beurre d’Isigny)

Fry four corals and four nuts at a time in a knob of butter 1 minute on each side in a large frying pan.

Place pasta in large bowls, arrange scallops on top, finish with sauce.

Alternatively serve the scallops in choice of sauce in the warmed shells.

Indigenous Ingredients

Great Scallop