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Perfectly Seared Scallops

Dry thoroughly, cook briefly, and sauce simply to enjoy the subtle sweet richness of seared scallops 

perfectly seared scallops
Click the image to watch the Seared Scallops with Herb-Butter Pan Sauce Video Recipe.


from Fine Cooking
Issue 72

There are few main courses as elegant and yet as simple as a dish of seared sea scallops. Sweet, tender, mild, and delectable—the less you fuss with scallops, the better they taste. The best way I’ve found to cook plump, meaty scallops is to sear them quickly in a hot pan so that the outsides get a lovely crisp, brown crust and the insides remains tender and creamy. Then, to dress them up, I whip up a speedy pan sauce in the same pan.

Get the recipe:  Seared Scallops with Herb-Butter Pan Sauce 

See it in action: Watch the Video Recipe

More Recipes for Seared Scallops

Perfect Sauces for Seared Scallops
Classic Herb Butter Sauce
Spicy Coconut Curry Sauce 
Spicy Red Pepper & Cilantro Sauce
Golden Shallot & Grapefruit Sauce

Getting a great sear isn’t hard if you keep these points in mind:

1) Dry scallops are essential —

At the store, ask for dry sea scallops, which means that they haven’t been soaked in a sodium solution. The solution whitens and plumps the scallops, but when you cook them, all that liquid leaches out, making it impossible to achieve a good sear.

Learn more about why dry scallops sear better.

2) Get the pan and cooking fat hot —

Heat a nonstick pan over medium-high heat for a minute or so; then add the fat and let it heat up. If you’re using oil, it’s ready when a drop of liquid sizzles as it hits the hot oil. If you’re using oil and butter, wait until the butter stops foaming.

3) Don't crowd the pan —

There should be enough room between the scallops so that they sizzle rather than steam—that’s the only way you’ll get a good crust. If your pan isn’t big enough to hold the scallops without crowding, sear them in batches.

Scallops only need a few minutes per side to get nicely browned. They’re done when they feel barely firm to the touch, and when you cut into one, it should be faintly opalescent. Don’t overcook them or they’ll be dry and rubbery.

After transferring the seared scallops to a platter, make a quick pan sauce. I offer three choices at right, but the options are limitless. The idea is to choose just a handful of ingredients that complement one another to make a lively sauce for your perfectly seared scallops.

Photo: Scott Phillips


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