Sauce Thermidor, most commonly poured over grilled lobster, takes a while to cook. That’s why I advise to make double the amount – it’s a bit tricky, but it’s absolutely special for a seafood dish. And it need not be lobster.
Yorkshire seafood Thermidor
A North Yorkshire equivalent of lobster Thermidor is served at a wonderful chippy in Filey, on the east coast of North England. It’s a proper chippy but has seating inside and table service, so some locals call it ‘a fish restaurant’.
Haddock prevails over cod, everything is cooked in beef drippings, bread and butter turns up whether you order it or not and if you ask for tea to be served AFTER the meal, they know you’re a Johnny Foreigner. And you know you’re in the North.
I’m not super-keen on battered fish so I usually look for something else (which isn’t battered saveloy). And that’s how I discovered their cod and prawn Mornay: the seafood baked in a rich cheesy béchamel.
And before you point out that fish and cheese is a no-no, I’ll tell you in this instance it is a resounding yes-yes.
But as much as I loved their dish, I didn’t want to reproduce Brown’s Mornay; I thought I’d try something more sophisticated, more – tongue goes into cheek, Johnny Foreigner.
Thermidor without lobster
Lobster Thermidor is a starchy, fine dining classic but Thermidor is a sauce in its own right and there’s no reason something else apart from lobsters should not be thermidored. Prawns, fish mix, clams – or scallops.
How to make sauce Thermidor?
There are as many different interpretations of sauce Thermidore as there are chefs, probably, so mine is a little different too, mostly inspired by Diana Henry. Parmesan, you see, takes me back to the Filey dish.
It is a real chore to cook and cook and cook the shallots until they soften but they absolutely must be soft; you don’t want oniony bits in your fine sauce. The reduction stage is even more boring: all of forty minutes or more of it as the stock et al must cook down to about a tablespoonful of liquid.
But hey – it’s not your basic dinner dish. It’s special.
Thermidor is a special treat
It tastes special too, and I urge you to make the full or even double amount of the sauce and freeze a portion for a future occasion. Any fish or seafood splashed with the Thermidor will be elevated to fine dining status.
And the backdrop for the scallops is something you should certainly consider cooking too if you go for my recipe: spelt with pancetta is a blissful bed for the fat little mollusks smothered with the posh, fragrant sauce.