Sea scallopsThe white gold of Dieppe

Sea scallops

They have more than one trick up their shells, and there are almost countless ways for you to enjoy them. They are fantastic when cooked in their natural juices, prepared raw in a carpaccio or seared, accompanied by a baby vegetable confit. Provocative: they are happy to get down and dirty with hard spirits, preferably a shot of Calvados. Cheeky: they enjoy being covered with a drizzle of fat, just for the pleasure of surprising palates. Bold: they can also be found on skewers, with a halo of exotic flavours. Nonchalant: they don’t mind being glazed with a citrus foam. Daring: they can easily hold their ground with a fresh foie gras gratin. Sensual: they simply melt into the subtlety of a risotto. Satisfied: they return to their roots with a coating of local crème crue. Baroque: they can be covered in infinite golden swirls of puff pastry. Or simply stark naked, dressed only in their exquisite flavour. They are countless ways to succumb to the charms of scallops.

Dieppe and scallops

Age-old ties

Scallops are the white gold of Dieppe. They are an institution, a symbol that has withstood the passage of time, which is a good enough reason to grab hold of an overly well-behaved timeline and shake it up with mischievous glee… Last October, thousands of painted scallop shells took over the town in a local style of celebrating the beloved molluscs. Here, we’re dreamers, and we have always invited pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago to stop in Dieppe for a unique encounter. In the past, 12th century pilgrims from Northern Europe would sew the symbol onto their clothes, use these shellfish to slake their thirst on the road, and tell age-old stories about them. Nowadays, we like to celebrate the ocean’s winter bounties of herring and scallops. In fact, you can see the scallop shell on the Camino de Santiago’s waymarks, as it has become the European symbol for that route.

A major french port

for fresh catches

But let’s come back to Dieppe and its ties to sea scallops, which have only strengthened over the years. It all begins at the end of summer in the fishing basin. The nets of the summer season are replaced by dredges, those heavy bag nets with metal mesh that are used to scrape the bottoms of fishing areas. Life is bustling on the docks and in the port’s cafés like Le Cayeux, and lively conversations revolve around fishing quotas, areas and times, as this activity is heavily regulated.

From october to may

A highly prized food

At last, the big day arrives as September turns into October. The spectacle is both solemn and moving: dozens of Norman scallop dredges glide majestically past the jetties on their way out to the fishing areas. The season is officially open. The scallopers can now raise the molluscs from the sandy ocean floor and sell them directly to buyers or at the auction hall, until the month of May.

They spend some time on the offshore banks before coming back to their “garden” of the Seine Bay. The work is hard, the fishing times inflexible and the quotas rigid. Nothing short of the nobility and quality of the shellfish are at stake. The generous, flavourful meat and the coral which brightens up plates with its sunny orange colour make Norman scallops the ultimate specimens of Pecten maximus, to use their scientific name. Michelin-starred chefs all over France have taken pains to embrace them, because scallops are a springboard for culinary creativity.

In Dieppe, we gladly treat ourselves to this gourmet delight, as we wander through the points of sale at Les Barrières and on Quai TrudaineIt only takes a few hours for scallops to travel from boat to bite, and the people of Dieppe are well aware that this is a real luxury!