Scallops With Leeks

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I have used vermouth in this dish, which gives a good flavour. I love having vermouth around for cooking, as I am not tempted to drink it.

Ingredients

  • 12 fresh scallops on their shells
  • 8 young leeks
  • 55 g/2 oz unsalted butter
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 150 ml/¼ pint dry white wine
  • 4 tbsp dry vermouth
  • 150 ml/¼ pint thick cream
  • a bunch of parsley, flat-leaf preferably, roughly chopped

Method

Remove the scallops from their shells or ask your fishmonger to do this. Separate the white flesh from the corals, and detach the hard skin round the whites and the tiny black sac from the coral. Wash clean under a running tap. Halve the whites horizontally. Leave to dry off on some paper towel.

Wash the leeks and discard the green parts (you can use them for soup or stock). Slice the white stems lengthwise into narrow strips about 5 cm/2 in long. Place in a saucepan with 25 g/1 oz of the butter, a pinch of salt and 8 tablespoons of water. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Keep hot.

In another pan melt the rest of the butter and then gently cook the shallots until they are soft. Add the wine, vermouth and the scallops with their corals. Bring just to boiling point, then turn the heat very low and simmer for exactly 2 minutes, or less if the scallops are small.

Remove the leeks from their liquid using a slotted instrument and place in a heated dish. With the same implement place the scallops on top. Add the leek juice to the scallop juice and boil briskly until the liquid is reduced to 8 tablespoonsful. Pour in the cream, bring back to the boil and bubble for a moment or two. Season with salt and pepper. Pour over the arranged scallops and leeks. Scatter the chopped parsley over all.

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