In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the Breton port of Nantes was a center of French trade with Asia, and a taste for spices with shellfish still lingers in Brittany. Shrimps Nantaise are also a favorite of Grandma’s, allow about 2 pounds/900 g raw shrimp in the shell and peel them before cooking.

Serves 6
1½ pounds/675 g sea scallops
¼ cup/30 g flour, seasoned with salt and black pepper
2 teaspoons curry powder, more to taste
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, more to taste
4 tablespoons/60 g butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
2/3 cup/150 ml dry white wine
1 pound/420 g tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons Cognac
2 to 3 tablespoons browned breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons/30 g butter
6 scallop shells or individual flameproof baking dishes

1. Wash the scallops, pat dry, discard the tough, crescent-shaped muscle adhering the one side. If the scallops are large, slice them in half horizontally to create 2 disks. In a bowl, mix together the seasoned flour, curry powder, and cayenne pepper. Add the scallops and toss to coat them evenly.

2. Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in a deep frying pan over a high heat until foaming. Add the scallops and sauté until brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Turn them and brown the other side, 1-2 minutes longer. Take them off the heat and divide them evenly among the scallop shells or baking dishes.

3. For the sauce, add the remaining 1 tablespoon butter to the pan. Lower the heat to medium, add the onion, and sauté until soft, 5-7 minutes. Pour in the wine and simmer until reduced by about half. Stir in the tomatoes, season with salt and black pepper, and cook just until the tomatoes are a pulp, 7-10 minutes. Stir in the Cognac, taste, and adjust the seasoning, adding more curry powder and cayenne pepper if you like.

4. Spoon the sauce over the scallops. Sprinkle with the breadcrumbs and melted butter. The scallops may be prepared to this point up to 4 hours ahead and refrigerated.

5. To finish, heat the broiler. Broil the scallops about 4 inches/10 cm from the heat until very hot and browned, 3-5 minutes, taking care not to overcook them or they will be tough. Serve at once.