For the best results, use “dry” scallops rather than “wet” scallops, which have been soaked in a sodium solution that prevents them from browning well.
Dry the scallops well with paper towels and season with 1/2 tsp. salt and the cayenne. In a 12-inch cast-iron skillet, heat 1 Tbs. of the oil over high heat until hot. Cook the scallops, turning once with tongs, until golden brown and just opaque throughout, 3 to 4 minutes per side. As they finish cooking, transfer the scallops to a large plate and brush the top of each with hoisin sauce.
Wipe out the skillet and then heat the remaining 1 Tbs. oil over medium-high heat. Add about two-thirds of the scallions and cook, stirring constantly, until softened, about 30 seconds. Add the spinach, cilantro, and 1/4 tsp. salt and cook, tossing constantly with tongs, until just barely wilted, about 2 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat, drizzle the spinach mixture with the sesame oil, and toss to combine well.
Serve the scallops with the spinach, sprinkled with the remaining scallions.
nutrition information (per serving):
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Photo: Scott Phillips