Scallops in Saffron Cream Sauce

Seared Sea Scallops in a Saffron Cream Sauce

adapted from “Big Small Plates” by Cindy Pawlcyn


For sauce:

1/2 tablespoon butter

1 to 1-1/2 medium shallots, minced

2 tablespoons Manzanilla or other dry sherry

1/2 cup white wine

generous pinch saffron, crumbled

2 cups heavy cream

1/8 teaspoon salt

Several shakes of cayenne

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper


To make scallops:

12 large sea scallops

Olive oil for brushing

1-2 tbsp. canola oil

4 tbsp. butter


For plating:

4 handfuls fresh baby spinach

1-2 tbsp. butter

garlic salt and pepper to taste


For the sauce, melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add shallots and cook, stirring, until just tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Be careful not to caramelize them. Add sherry and cook it down until the pan is almost dry. Add wine and saffron; cook, stirring, until the alcohol has evaporated, another 2 or 3 minutes. Add cream and cook, stirring, until sauce has reduced at least by half, another 2 minutes or so: you want about 1-1/2 cups of sauce that is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Finish with salt, cayenne, and white pepper. Keep warm while searing scallops or refrigerate and reheat before serving.


Blot scallops with paper towel or kitchen towel to remove excess moisture, then sear using the butter bomb method (video showing the process is here). Set scallops aside.


In a separate pan, melt the butter and wilt the spinach. Season to taste.


To serve, reheat the sauce, if necessary. Place a mound of spinach on your plate, then arrange scallops on top of the spinach. Top with sauce, and then serve.


Serves: 4

Keegie_in_DC, Leo and 2 more people faved this
  • Keegie_in_DC 6y

  • Emorphous 5y

    Hey, awesome recipe. I cooked this the other night with a few modifications.

    I soaked my saffron in 3 tablespoons of white wine for 2 hours, and added this when you said to crumble it in. This made the sauce a brighter yellow and maybe adds a little more saffron flavor.

    Also, I served this on top of risotto. For the risotto, I just cooked the rice in chicken broth like normal, and instead of added cream cheese, I added some of the saffron cream sauce! It was mighty tasty.

    Thanks a bunch for this great recipe, it really is very good. We paired it with a calm chardonnay (light on the barrel flavor).
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