Scallops in Filo Pastry with Watercress Sauce

Filo pastry cooks to a crisp brownness in a matter of minutes – just long enough to turn the scallops hidden inside opaque, without toughening them by overcooking. The speckled green watercress sauce can be made in advance, and reheated gently as the scallop triangles bake. The idea is one I first came across at Clarke’s Restaurant in London, and it came originally from Nico Ladenis.


  • 4 sheets of filo pastry
  • 75 g/3 oz butter, melted
  • 8 large scallops, whites sliced into 3 thin discs and coral cut into pieces
  • chopped parsley
  • chopped dill
  • lemon juice
  • 4 lemon wedges
  • 4 sprigs of parsley

For the Sauce

  • 15 g/½ oz butter
  • 100 g/4 oz trimmed leeks, well washed and finely sliced
  • 50 ml/2 fl oz fish stock
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 50 ml/2 fl oz single cream
  • 25 g/1 oz watercress leaves


Cover the sheets of filo pastry with a sheet of greaseproof paper, and over that a clean, damp tea towel – this prevents the pastry drying out, and becoming brittle.

Take one sheet of filo and brush with melted butter. Cut in half crossways. Lift one half and put on top of the other. Arrange two of the sliced scallops in the centre, sprinkle with a little parsley and dill and a few drops of lemon juice. Fold in the two sides over the filling and roll up to make a neat parcel. Repeat with the other three sheets of filo and the remaining scallops, herbs and lemon juice to give four parcels. Lay each parcel seam-side down on an ungreased baking sheet and brush with melted butter. Bake in a preheated oven, 230°C/450°F/gas mark 8, for 10 minutes, until the filo parcels are golden brown.

To make the sauce, melt the butter in a pan and sweat the leeks gently until tender. Add the stock, and salt and pepper to taste, and simmer for 5 minutes. Process briefly in a processor or blender with the single cream and watercress to give a smooth sauce. Taste and adjust seasonings. If necessary, reheat gently without boiling. Divide between four plates and sit one filo parcel on each pool of sauce. Add a lemon wedge and a sprig of parsley and serve.