Those Galician Scallops are exquisite with a smooth white wine bechamel and a crunchy iberic ham to top them! Surf and Turf at it’s best!Those Galician Scallops are exquisite with a smooth white wine bechamel and a crunchy iberic ham to top them! Surf and Turf at it’s best!

iberic variegated scallop

The Variegated Scallops or Zamburiñas are a small variety of Galician scallops about twice or three times smaller than normal scallops. Check the picture below to see the difference. Those mollusks are changing sex many times during their lifetime to end up male. Which I find strange/funny because shell “concha” in Spanish means “the lady part” in South America… Well, let’s leave it to that! In Spain the coral (roe) is also eaten, especially with this smaller variety of scallops, the coral results more tender than the usual scallops. If you make the recipe with normal sized scallops, you should avoid leaving them in, they are quite rough to eat, I suggest to cut them into really small dices and add them to the bechamel if you want to make good use of the coral.

iberic variegated scallop

The region where you’ll find those Zamburiñas is north west of Spain in Galicia, which is the land of many other great dishes for example; the Galician octopus called pulpo a la gallega or the galician cod (Bacalao a la gallega), they even make a pie with the Zamburiñas, etc. The shell from this particular variety of scallops is the symbol of the famous route of Santiago de Compostela. Back in the days, having one of those shells would mean that you have done it! the whole Christian pilgrimage to the Tomb of James in Santiago de Compostela. Many paths exist to reach Santiago de Compostela just like its shell symbol with its many lines meeting in one point, a perfect symbol for the pilgrimage.


Let’s talk taste

iberic variegated scallopIn Spain, the common belief is that the small scallops taste better… although, personally I didn’t find a big difference if any…February is the peak of the scallops season, right now they are affordable (in Spain) and are great to serve as an appetizers or tapas. Spanish people often serve their scallops with a touch of iberic ham, sometimes with a garlic-onion sauce,  a simple parsley, lemon and olive oil drizzle, or spicy tomato sauce, etc. For this batch I wanted to try scallops the surf and turf way with the cured ham. I’ve made the scallops with a tad white wine bechamel and topped it with a few pieces of iberic ham (or any cured ham) enveloped in bread crumbs. Then in the oven the bechamel will lightly get golden and smooth things up while the iberic ham will become crispier for a nicely textured and flavorful tapa!

The recipe is suitable for normal sized scallops. So let’s get to it!


Iberic Variegated Scallops (Zamburiñas)

Makes 10 Zamburiñas or 4 scallops | Preparation: 15 minutes | Difficulty: easy

  • 10 Zamburiñas or 4 scallops with shell
  • 100g of iberic ham (any cured ham), cut into small cubes
  • 2 tbsp of breadcrumbs *optional for extra crunch
iberic variegated scallopBechamel sauce
  • 2 tbsp of flour
  • 2 tbsp of butter
  • 50ml of white wine
  • 150 ml of milk or cream
  • flat leave parsley, finely chopped
  • pinch of nutmeg *optional
  • salt and pepper
  1. Start by taking the frozen scallops out of the freezer, leave them in the fridge for 30 minutes before the cooking starts
  2. In a small sauce pan, add the butter and flour, medium-high heat and let the flour cook for a minute or two until it start to smell nutty
  3. Add the splash of white wine then the milk and the spices and whisk until it becomes thick
  4. Add the breadcrumbs to the ham and mix
  5. Add the bechamel sauce on top of the scallops with the pieces of cured ham
  6. Preheat the oven to the max, broil the scallops for about 4 minutes (for the small ones) or 5-6 minutes (normal sized scallops)
  7. Serve


iberic variegated scallop



  1. This recipe looks exquisite yet seems very simple to execute. I love Spanish food and lokk forward to trying this one!

  2. These sounds fabulous! I’ve been experimenting with scallops lately too. I can’t wait to try your version with Iberico ham (although really good quality Iberico like you can get in Spain) is difficult to find here and I really don’t think there is anything that is quite as good!! Your presentation is beautiful—and inspiring! Thanks for sharing.

    • You can use any cured ham! I didn’t use a high quality Iberic ham for this, I took a lower quality which is still affordable and crazy good. The good king is such a delicacy, it’s only eaten by its own!;)

  3. Markus Mueller Reply

    Wow! The simplicity yet depth of flavours this dish provides is awesome! I am a huge fan of scallops, and although I don’t have access to these Spanish ones, I’ll be using PEI mussels to make this! Now I only need to find mussels in the shell….

  4. diversivore Reply

    This is 100% amazing. I love scallops pretty much any way, but the wine, the spices, and the Iberic ham (!!) really do put an awesome and memorable twist on the whole ‘surf and turf’ idea. Plus, your presentation (and your photos) are amazing! While I haven’t had the chance to work with scallop roe yet, I’m pleased to see your tip about size and tenderness. I’ll be sure to remember the bechamel tip. Awesome recipe, and awesome work.

  5. eileenbakingsense Reply

    What a stunning dish! I wish I had a big plate of them right now.

  6. Pingback: Towards Santiago - Wandering

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