Galician Sea Scallops

scallops with leeks and potatoesLarge, dry-pack sea scallops are simply superb. This Spanish recipe combines all the elements that bring out the best in them: smoky bacon, nutty sherry, and incomparable saffron. Be sure to have all the rest of the meal ready to plate before you start to cook the scallops; they wait for no man, or woman. I served these with stewed leeks with mint and steamed potatoes with chives.


  • 8 large scallops, about ½ pound
  • 2 slices thick cut smoked bacon cut crosswise into thin strips
  • Extra virgin olive oil, as needed
  • Generous splash of dry sherry, about ¼ cup
  • Pinch saffron
  • Grind of black pepper


Rinse the scallops and remove the tendons if still attached (do not discard them but freeze for making scallop butter). Dry them well on paper towels.Render the bacon in a skillet (not non-stick) until the bits are crispy and the fat begins to smoke. Remove the bacon and set aside.If needed as a bit of olive oil to the pan to make sure the bottom has about ⅛ inch of fat in it. When very hot put in the scallops and sear on one side for 2 minutes without moving them. Carefully turn them over—they may stick a bit—and cook on the second side for about one minute. Remove from the pan and pour off the excess fat.Turn the heat down to medium and pour in the sherry. Add the saffron and deglaze the pan scrapping up any browned bits. When the sherry is nearly evaporated turn the heat off then return the bacon and scallops to the pan. Toss a couple of times to coat the scallops and warm them up. Serve immediately topping the scallops with the bacon bits and sauce.

Stewed Leeks with Mint


  • 2 trimmed leeks, about ½ pound
  • 2 tsp. chopped fresh mint
  • 1 tsp. butter
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ¼ cup chicken stock
  • Freshly ground black pepper


Halve the leeks lengthwise then slice thinly crosswise. Rinse well in a large bowl of cold water to remove any traces of sand. Drain in a colander.Melt the butter in saucepan with a lid over medium heat. Add the leeks, mint, and salt. Sauté, stirring frequently, until softened. Add the chicken stock, cover the pan, and cook over very low heat for about 30 minutes. Uncover, raise the heat to medium and continue to cook until the liquid has evaporated. Season with a generous grind of black pepper and salt if needed.

Steamed Potatoes with Chives


  • 2 medium potatoes, about 10 ounces
  • ½ cup chicken stock
  • 1 Tbsp. snipped fresh chives
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Peel the potatoes and cut them into ¼-inch slices using a mandolin if you have one. Put the potatoes in a sauté pan with a lid and add the chicken stock. Cover and steam gently until a small knife pierces the potatoes easily. Uncover, raise the heat, and let most of the liquid evaporate. Add the chives, butter, and seasonings.


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