“The so-called Venus shells (…) set sail on the surface of the seas. The combs jump, flutter out of the water; they too use their shells as a boat.” In his Natural History (IX, 52, 2), Pliny the Elder thus described the pecten maximus, because of their resemblance to the round combs used by the Romans. These large scallops, the pilgrims of Compostela got into the habit of collecting them on the beaches of Galicia from the 12th century. If their olfactory system allows them to escape in small leaps from the starfish, their main predator, they can do nothing against … the insatiable appetite of French gourmets. If they thought they were taking it easy on the ocean floor during confinement, it’s a failure!
Our guide for the day is called Mickaël Féval. The chef, crazy about everything that carries a fin, has just been awarded a star for his restaurant Mickaël Féval in Aix en Provence. “COVID forced us to imagine a new gastronomic offer. I really like cooking fish but it is difficult to offer quality when the fish must be reheated. I did not want to offer only carpaccios or ceviche either. That’s how I got the idea of the scallop quenelle, easy to heat, with a touch of Espelette pepper, nutmeg and hazelnut oil to remind the taste that it takes when it is colored. “
Mickaël Féval’s Saint-Jacques quenelles ready to be tasted © Mickaël Féval
La Quenelle de Saint-Jacques by Mickaël Féval (6 people)
For the quenelles:
• 300g of scallops, shelled and washed
• 180g of PDO butter
• 20cl of milk
• 4 large organic eggs
• 2 organic egg whites
• 240g of flour
• 10g of hazelnut oil
• 10g of salt
• Espelette pepper powder and grated nutmeg
For the sauce:
• 10g of salt
• 5cl of white wine
• 1 shallot, finely chopped
• 10cl of full-bodied fish stock
• 20cl of liquid cream
• 20g of PDO butter
Quenelle rolled before cooking © Mickaël Féval
In the kitchen
1. Prepare the panade:
In a saucepan, bring the milk with 40 grams of butter to a boil. Then add the sifted flour all at once. Mix vigorously on the heat until it comes off the walls. Film and set aside in the fridge.
Mix the scallops with the salt, Espelette pepper and nutmeg. Add the whites to this mixture, the very cold breadcrumbs, the whole eggs, the hazelnut oil and the rest of the softened butter. Emulsify until the preparation becomes foamy. Reserve in the fridge for one hour.
Bring a large volume of salted water to a boil. Using two wet tablespoons, form beautiful quenelles, set them aside on a baking sheet as you go (there are 3 beautiful quenelles per person). When all the quenelles are formed, delicately plunge them into simmering water, and let them poach for 15 minutes. Take them out of the water and reserve them on absorbent paper.
2. Prepare the sauce:
In a saucepan, reduce the white wine by half with the shallot then add the stock and the cream, heat over low heat for 2 minutes, adjust the seasoning and whisk in the butter. Reserve at room temperature.
In a baking dish, place the quenelles, taking care to leave a nice space between each (they will double in size). Add the sauce.
In an oven preheated to 190 ° C, slide the quenelles for 15 to 20 minutes. Check regularly for cooking and coloring.
Serve right out of the oven without waiting for them to deflate. Serve with a pan-fried mushrooms and baby spinach leaves. In this recipe, it’s all about delicacy.
The Mickael Féval restaurant gets carried away here.