Sea Scallops in Black Tie

The best sea scallops are on the markets roughly at the same time with black truffles so it only makes sense that they appear together in the same dish. Scallops in black tie – a clever combination of scallops, black truffles, spinach and puff pastry – was made famous at Le Cirque and is still, to this day, one of the most popular item on their menu. It follows the old adage that if you put four delicious ingredients together, chances are the results are gonna be delicious x4. Okay, I made that up and I can think of plenty of ways to mess up those ingredients but you get my point. This combination works.

This is part II of the black truffle saga where I make three recipes out of one black truffle. The first installment of this exciting trilogy featured a Black Truffle Sponge Cake that was devoured senselessly by an experienced team of taste testers who reduced it to crumbs. And survived.

The fun part is to create little packages that I like to call “bundles of joy”. They can be built ahead of time and baked at the last moment. You start by slicing the scallops in fourth and make little “sandwiches” with the scallops and truffle slices. Then you steam the spinach and dry it well, and wrap the scallop/truffle bundles with the leaves. Cut a strip of puff pastry to wrap around the scallop bundles and two rounds for top and bottom. Brush some egg to make everything stick together and brush some more on the pastry so it turns golden brown when it bakes. The truffle trimming are used to make a sauce with vermouth, reduced chicken stock and butter.

Now, I’m aware that truffle is an expensive and hard to find ingredient but I wanted to demonstrate this technique anyway because with a little imagination you could replace the truffles by let’s say.. beets, or other things, and create a quite impressive appetizer while staying budget friendly. Enjoy!

  • Sea Scallops in Black Tie

    • Recipe by Daniel Boulud in “Cooking with Daniel Boulud”
    • Serves 6
    • Sea Scallops in Black Tie
    • 2 fresh black truffles, golf-ball size
    • 10 jumbo Maine sea scallops, very fresh and firm
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • 8 ounces spinach leaves, stems discarded, washed
    • 1/2 pound puff pastry
    • 1 egg whisked with 1 teaspoon water
    • Vermouth Truffle Sauce:
    • 1 1/4 cups dry white vermouth (Noilly Prat)
    • 1/2 cup chicken stock
    • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
    • For the Sea Scallops in Black Tie:
    • Slice each truffle into 16 thin slices with a vegetable slicer or mandoline (you will need about 3 slices of truffle per scallop). Save any juice, chop the trimmings, and set both aside for the sauce.
    • Cut each scallop horizontally into 4 slices. Reconstruct each scallop by alternating the 4 slices of scallop with 3 slices of truffle. Season with salt and pepper and refrigerate until needed.
    • Wilt the spinach in a steamer or in water for 1 to 2 minutes. Drain, cool under cold running water, and drain again. Carefully spread each spinach leaf open on a kitchen towel and pat dry with a second towel.
    • Place a layered scallop in the center of a large spinach leaf and wrap the leaf tightly and smoothly around the scallop. If the scallop is not totally enclosed in the spinach leaf, use a second leaf to seal the scallop in. Repeat the same process for each layered scallop and refrigerate until needed (discard the remaining spinach leaves, or keep for other uses).
    • Sprinkle the counter and rolling pin with flour and roll out the puff pastry until very thin, about 1/8 inch thick. Cut out 24 disks with a 1 1/2-inch round cookie cutter and 12 ribbons of puff pastry about 5 by 1 1/2 inches. Refrigerate the disks and ribbons on a floured baking sheet for 15 minutes.
    • After the dough has rested, brush about 1 inch at one end of each ribbon with the egg wash. Place 1 spinach bundle on the other end of the ribbon and roll the ribbon around the bundle until it overlaps the brushed end to seal. Fold the pastry edges tightly over the top and bottom of the bundle. Brush 2 disks with the egg wash and place a disk on either side of the bundle. Press well to seal. Repeat the same steps to wrap each spinach bundle in the puff pastry.
    • Place the turnovers on a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Brush each pastry lightly with the remaining egg wash. Refrigerate until ready to cook.
    • Preheat oven to 450°F (230°C). Bake the turnovers for 5 to 8 minutes, depending on the size, or until golden (while baking, watch carefully that they do not burn).
    • For the vermouth/truffle sauce:
    • Prepare the sauce while the turnovers are baking. Pour the vermouth into a small saucepan over high heat. Reduce to 1 teaspoon, about 10 minutes. Add the chicken stock. Reduce to 1/4 cup and stir in the butter. Add the reserved chopped truffle trimmings, salt and pepper to taste, and remove from heat.
    • To finish:
    • Split the turnovers in half from top to bottom with a sharp serrated knife. Spoon 1 tablespoon of sauce on the bottom of 4 warmed plates. Place the Sea Scallops in Black Tie on the plates and serve immediately.
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  • PolaM

    How elegant! It is for sure a great technique!

  • Joan Nova

    Another stunner! 

  • Yue Cheong

    I love scallops, this looks amazingly delicious~

  • Javelin Warrior

    Incredible – love the stunning contrast between the white of the scallop and the black of the truffle. And all benignly encrusted in puff pastry =)

  • Anonymous

    Thanks, Joan!

  • Anonymous

    Thank you!

  • Christy

    What an impressive dish!! You make scallops look so exquisite and I am stunned by how elegant this dish is :)

  • foodmakesmehappy

    How creative, these are truly a thing of beauty, or should I say work of art!?

  • Jessica | Oh Cake

    You’ve made a really gorgeous dish here! 

  • Chris Chang

    That looks way too amazing…way too amazing…and dare I repeat myself again, way too amazing!

    I wish you could send me some of those “bundles of joy” because I think if I ate them I would be very very joyful!  Although I will probably never buy a truffle in my life, I am definitely inspired to try assembling something like this!

  • Michaelc

    I love the way you suggest the truffles could be replaced by…er beets…..or something. 

    Bloody difficult to find a an alternative once you have truffles in your head.

    They do look damned good though. Here in Bangkok the scallops are miserable little things, and we really miss them. 

    Anyway thank you, always look forward to your posts,


  • Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella

    What an amazing creation! Thanks for sharing your technique!

  • Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella

    What an amazing creation! Thanks for sharing your technique!

  • Suzi

    Wow.  This is phenomenal.  Your photography is stunning.

  • Oui, Chef

    I remember seeing this recipe in his cookbook and drooling, now you’re making me do it all over again!  A real showstopper of a dish…totally truffle worthy.

  • Karen (Back Road Journal)

    So happy to have discovered your wonderful blog. Great recipes and stunning photos. 

  • Anonymous

    Gorgeous dish!  And you’re right – even if one doesn’t make this with truffles (I won’t!), you can still make it with something else.  Actually using beets would be rather pretty – with the green spinach it would be perfect for Christmas.  Exceptionally well-written instructions – I had several questions before I got to the actual recipe, but you answered them all.  Great post – thanks.

  • vanillasugarblog

    another fabulous creation zenman.
    you have amazing talent.
    you need a cookbook deal!

  • Anonymous

    I’m thinking about it! :)

  • Anonymous

    Or (less expensive) mushrooms would work too. Try finding  shiitakes about the same diameter as the scallops. Thank you!

  • Anonymous

    Thank you, Steve!

  • Anonymous

    Thank you very much, and welcome!

  • Anonymous

    Thank you, Michael. Yes you would need nice scallops to make this work but you could get creative and try other shellfish in a similar preparation. Truffles are hard to replace. True. 

  • Anonymous

    Never say never! Or train a truffle hunting pig and go find your own. :)

  • Anonymous

    Definitely an impressive dish to serve at a party!

  • Anonymous

    Just call me Picasso from now on 😛

  • Carolyn Jung

    Oooh, la la — I feel like I should don an evening gown to enjoy these. So elegant. 😉

  • Anonymous

    Ok, I’m gonna go dig up my tux! 😛


    So beautiful!

  • Frank Fariello

    Amazing and elegant, as usual. Bravo, Stephane! 

  • AnnaBanana

    I just substituted the truffles with lightly fried pancetta. So happy……

  • CarriesExpKtchn

    Good morning, I have featured this recipe on my blog for my weekly seafood round-up and have also linked this recipe to your original post so that my readers will be forwarded to your site. Thank you for allowing me to share and have a wonderful weekend. Here is the link: