National Coquilles Saint Jacques Day is celebrated every year on May 16 to honor ‘the Shell of St. James,’ another name for the popular seafood scallops. In France, the coquille is a certain species of scallop and, for this particular dish, only the coquille can be used. It is made with a mixture of butter, cream, mushrooms, and cheese. But don’t worry, in other regions that where the coquille cannot be found, people can use any variety of scallop and cook them in a wide range of ways.
History of National Coquilles Saint Jacques Day
National Coquilles Saint Jacques Day is a rather unusual holiday and, while the origin remains a mystery, it does have a rich history.
It’s believed that the scallop shell is a symbol of St. James, who was one of Jesus’ twelve Apostles. There are legends who suggest that the scallop shell served as water and food bowls for pilgrims during their journey to Santiago de Compostela. The carved shell of a scallop can be found on the front of houses used by pilgrims at stopover points.
‘Coquilles Saint Jacques’ are scallops cooked in a certain French way. In France, most of the king scallops come from the Atlantic and are called the St. James scallop. There is a popular theory behind how the dish got its name. According to legend, St. James saved a knight from drowning and when the knight emerged from the water, he was covered with shells and so the phrase “shells of St. James” came around. However, it is to be noted that the dish isn’t directly connected to St. Jacques/James and only gets the name from him.
Over the years, the dish has become extremely popular in many parts of the world. While it remains traditionally French, the Italians of Montreal have adopted it as their own and added a twist to it. They have replaced the original Gruyère cheese used in the preparation with classic mozzarella cheese.
National Coquilles Saint Jacques Day timeline
The scallop shell gets its name ‘The Coquille St Jacques’ based on the symbol used by pilgrims walking to St. Jacques de Compostelle.
A written recipe for cooking scallops by sauteeing or stewing them is published.
Scallops become part of the regular American diet, especially in coastal communities.
Scallops served in the shell with butter, cream, cheese, and shallots appear on French restaurant menus.
National Coquilles Saint Jacques Day FAQs
What do you eat with Coquilles St. Jacques?
You can serve Coquilles St. Jacques as a first course and, if it’s the main course, then French cut green beans along with almonds and fried onions complement the scallops nicely.
Coquilles Saint Jacques is of what origin?
Coquilles Saint Jacques is a traditional French dish and it made an appearance on the menus of French restaurants many years ago.
How do you make Coquilles Saint Jacques at home?
Scallops can be made in a variety of ways! However, to perfect the Coquilles Saint Jacques, make it with a mixture of butter, cream, mushrooms, and cheese and bake it in the scallop shell.
How To Celebrate National Coquilles Saint Jacques Day
Make your own Coquilles Saint Jacques
Making scallops the French way at home is not as intimidating as it sounds. The mixture only requires butter, cream, mushrooms, and cheese. After that, you just have to bake the scallops. So what are you waiting for? Get right to it!
Go out for Coquilles Saint Jacques
Don’t like cooking but you really want to have this exquisite dish? You can simply head out to a French restaurant and order a plate, or two, of Coquilles Saint Jacques. You can even take a Insta-worthy photo and show off your meal, using the hashtag #CoquillesSaintJacquesDay
Learn to make Coquilles Saint Jacques
Look for local cooking schools or ongoing workshops near your area and sign up to make scallops. Once you’ve mastered how to cook this mouth-watering dish, you can make it for your friends and family and show off your newly acquired skill. You can even use this skill to impress a potential love interest.
5 Interesting Facts About Scallops
The edible meat inside the shell is firm and white, and the roe is soft and reddish-orange.
In Japan, they’re eaten as sashimi or sushi.
Scallops are considered a highly prized food source in many countries across the globe.
Various forms of preparation
Scallops can be prepared in a variety of ways such as sautéing, grilling, broiling, and poaching.
Edible scallops are the bay scallop and the Atlantic sea scallop, with the former being smaller in size and cheaper than sea scallops, which are giant and expensive.
Why We Love National Coquilles Saint Jacques Day
They’re cooked the French way!
Everyone has a different way of cooking scallops and Coquilles Saint Jacques are scallops cooked in the French style. Enjoy this day by devouring scallops that are cooked with a mixture of butter, cream, mushrooms, and cheese, baked in a scallop shell.
Scallops are healthy
Worried about your health? Fret not! Scallops are actually really healthy as they’re rich in omega-3 fatty acids. The healthy fats in them can help to balance your cholesterol levels. Moreover, they also reduce the risk of heart disease. Scallops are high in magnesium, which contributes to good heart health. Don’t limit yourself and dig right into that plate full of tempting scallops.
Eating without guilt
Who doesn’t love a food holiday on which you can just eat without any guilt? Especially when the food in question is the delectable scallop. So don’t feel bad about celebrating this Coquilles Saint Jacques Day.
National Coquilles Saint Jacques Day dates