Commonly served alongside smoke salmon as a starter on Christmas day, scallops are fished along the Norman and Atlantic coastlines from October 1, winter being prime scallop season. In France, scallops are considered a real treat because of the country’s shorter fishing season (7.5 months), which is strictly imposed to allow the species to recover and thrive. In 2021, an impressive 23,424 tonnes of scallops were landed in France.
Scallops take two to three years to mature and the dredges used to fish for them are carefully designed to leave behind the small, immature scallops.
If you’re heading to a market or dining out in France over the festive season, look out in particular for Label Rouge scallops from the Baie de Seine, with their pearly white flesh and deep orange colour – they have a finer, sweeter flavour than other varieties.
Scallops are best seared quickly (just a couple of minutes) in a hot pan and are great served alongside flecks of black pudding and a green salad as a starter. Alternatively, try them cooked in a broth or even eaten raw if you’re feeling adventurous, although make sure you have the very freshest scallops if you plan to try this. Another great way to prepare them is to leave them to cure in a mixture of lemon juice, ginger, spring onions and chilli for a spicy and delicate ceviche.