Scallops in Basil Butter Sauce

This dish is a particular favourite of mine – the fresh basil sauce really complements the delicate flavour of the scallops. It is also very simple and easy to prepare and requires very little cooking.

Ingredients

  • 20-24 scallops
  • Salt and freshly ground white pepper
  • 300 ml/½ pint fish stock
  • 25 ml/1 fl oz dry sherry
  • 12 fresh basil leaves, shredded
  • 150 g/5 oz cold unsalted butter

Garnish

  • 4 small scallop-shaped pastry shells (optional)

Method

Shell, trim and wash the scallops, then dry well. Season and poach them gently in the fish stock and sherry for 2-3 minutes. Do not allow the liquid to boil as the scallops will overcook and become dry very quickly. When they are cooked, cover and keep warm.

To make the sauce, reduce the liquor to a quarter of its original volume and add the basil leaves. Bring the sauce to the boil, then immediately reduce the heat to very low and gradually add the butter, whisking continuously until it has all melted. Be careful not to let the sauce boil once the butter goes in or it will separate; the butter will thicken the sauce and give it a smooth velvety texture. Season the sauce to taste.

To Serve

Arrange the scallops in the soup plates and pour over the sauce. If wished, garnish with small pastry shells cut from shortcrust pastry.