Irish Butter-Poached Scallops Recipe

A seafood dish from Napa Valley chef and cookbook author Cindy Pawlcyn.


1 cup coarsely shredded dried breadcrumbs
2-3 tbsp olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, finely minced
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley or chives

Leeks & Peas
1 large leek, white and light green parts only, outer layers discarded and thinly sliced (3 to 3-1/2 cups)
2 tbsp unsalted butter
3 tbsp crème fraîche or heavy cream
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp sea salt
7 grinds of black pepper
1-3/4 to 2 cups shelled fresh or frozen English peas

12-18 jumbo scallops, depending on everyone’s appetite*
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup clarified Irish butter**
Grated zest and juice of 2 lemons
Watercress sprigs, for garnish

* I like to use big scallops for this dish because they are easier to cook all at once in a couple of big pans.

** Irish butter is much richer and has fewer milk solids than the everyday butter sold in the United States. You can substitute the more widely available European-style butter, which, like Irish butter, is higher in butterfat than standard U.S. butter. Kerrygold brand is my favorite, and Plugrá is a popular brand.


Step 1: To make the gremolata, preheat the oven to 350°F. Put the breadcrumbs in a small bowl, drizzle with the olive oil, season with salt and pepper and toss to coat evenly. Spread in a pie pan or small baking sheet and toast for 7-8 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool completely. Just before serving, stir in the garlic, lemon zest, and parsley.

Step 2: To prepare the leeks and peas, in a saucepan, combine the leek, butter, crème fraîche, water, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 1-2 minutes, until the leeks are a little tender and the sauce is reducing. Use your best judgment as to when to add the peas. If they are fresh but starchy they may take some time, so add them as soon as the leeks start to soften. If they are frozen, they may take just 2-3 minutes, so add them at the end. Shake the pan occasionally during cooking to change what is on the bottom of the pan with what is on the top. Cook until the vegetables are tender.

Step 3: Once the vegetables are cooking, season the scallops on both sides with salt and pepper. In a big sauté pan (large enough to hold all of the scallops in a single layer), melt the butter over medium heat. When the butter is hot and foamy, add the scallops and poach gently for 3-5 minutes, basting as needed, until just done. They are ready when they feel just firm to the touch.

Step 4: To serve, spoon the vegetables into individual deep plates or shallow soup bowls and top with the scallops. Add the lemon zest and juice to the butter from the scallop pan, then drizzle over the scallops. Sprinkle with some of the gremolata and garnish with the watercress.

See more recipes from Cindy Pawlcyn.

Reprinted with permission from Cindy Pawlcyn’s Cindy’s Supper Club (2012 Ten Speed Press).