Seared Scallops with Spring Onion and Tarragon Cream

  • Servings: 4 servings
  • Prep time: ~ 15 minutes
  • Cook time: ~ 45 minutes to 1 hour


  • 1 pound wild dry sea scallops
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • Sea salt, French Grey or Himalayan
  • 1 bunch spring onions, about ½ lb.
  • 2 tablespoons fresh tarragon leaves
  • grapeseed or other neutral oil
  • 2 tablespoons crème fraiche
  • fresh chives for garnish

Are you looking for something spectacular to cook this Mother’s Day or any other special occasion?  My husband selected this Seared Scallops with Spring Onion and Tarragon Cream recipe for this Sunday. Just looking at the picture makes my mouth water!

This recipe won the best scallop contest on Food 52 and got rave reviews from everyone who has made it. They give detailed instructions on how to caramelize the scallops and make the sauce. Even with the technique of refrigerating the scallops for 30 minutes, you still need to buy high quality, dry packed scallops.

Wet packed scallops are injected with water and sodium tripolyphosphate and look whiter and plumper because of the liquid. The liquid leaks out when you are searing them making it close to impossible to get a good crust on the outside. Plus, they weigh almost 30% more than dry packed so you do not get your money’s worth with wet packed scallops. They do not taste as sweet either.

Diver scallops are even better since divers take the mature scallops and leave behind the young ones. The method for harvesting Diver scallops is  more Eco-friendly since they do not use a large net and drag it across the ocean floor.

Only cook scallops for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes per side and do not crowd the scallops in the pan. Leave at least 1 inch space around each one. Scallops will continue to cook after you remove them from the pan. Let them rest to seal in the juices. Serve the scallops warm with some steamed asparagus. A light citrus dressing on a fresh green salad would also go well with this meal.

I hope you have a wonderful dinner with your family!  Let me know what your husband cooks for you and if you try this recipe some time soon. Enjoy!



1) Place the scallops on a plate or platter and refrigerate, uncovered, for 30 minutes.

2) Trim the spring onions, separating the green tops from the small bulbs. Dice the bulbs and roughly chop the greens.

3) Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the chopped spring onion bulbs and a pinch of salt, reduce the heat to low, and cook 20-25 minutes, until very soft. Add the green tops, toss through, and cook an additional 5-10 minutes until soft but still bright green. Sprinkle the flour over and cook for a minute or two, just until the raw flour smell is gone. Add the milk, raising the heat to medium, and cook briefly until thickened. Add the tarragon leaves and stir through, then turn off the heat and pour the mixture into a blender. Puree until very smooth, then return to the pan over low heat, cooking until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

4) Pour a thin film of grapeseed oil in the bottom of a sauté pan and warm over medium-high heat until shimmering. Carefully add the scallops a few at a time, being careful not to crowd the pan, and sear them just couple of minutes per side until they are nicely browned and caramelized – they should release from the pan easily once they are ready. They should still be a little jiggly in the middle, as they will continue to cook off the heat. Set aside and keep warm.

5) Taste the sauce and adjust salt if necessary. Whisk in the crème fraiche off the heat until the mixture is smooth, then spoon a little of the sauce into the bottom of shallow, warmed bowls, place scallops on top, and garnish with fresh chives. read more 

Wine Pairing

Perrine paired this really complex Altesse from Savoie, 2012 Rousette de Savoie, Altesse, Charles Gonnet, Savoie for $21.99 with the seared scallops. I am sure it will be perfect since every pairing has been spot on from her.

The Ultimate Cookbook Tip

Succulent Scallops

Scallops can range in color from off-white to pale pink. Do not buy those that appear too white-they have excess water added and almost no flavor. Select scallops that smell sweet and have a moist sheen. Buy them from a seafood market that gets fresh shipments regularly. Most scallops come to the market frozen, so try not to re-freeze them; they are especially susceptible to freezer burn. Small bay scallops are sweeter and have a richer flavor than larger sea scallops. One pound of sea scallops contains about 30 pieces, while a pound of bay scallops has about 100 pieces. Use small scallops in pasta sauces, risotto, or wherever flavor is more important than size. For grilling or broiling, sea scallops are easier to handle. Pat scallops dry before you saute them so they will not “water out” in the recipe.

Featured picture from Food 52

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