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Seared Scallops with Herb-Butter Pan Sauce


Serves 2 to 3

If you're looking for a dish that's as easy as it is romantic, look no further. Seared scallops are quick-cooking, sweet, tender, mild, and delectable. Make these for Valentine's Day dinner and you and the dish will be irresistible. For a change of pace, try these same seared scallops with Spicy Coconut Curry Sauce or Spicy Red Pepper & Cilantro Sauce.

Video: Watch the Video Recipe to see the Seared Scallops with Herb-Butter Sauce come together, step by step, and subscribe to Fine Cooking magazine for more special-occasion menus and recipes.

For the scallops:
  • 1 lb. dry large sea scallops
  • 1 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the sauce:
  • 3 Tbs. unsalted butter, cut into six  pieces
  • 2 Tbs. finely diced shallot (1 medium shallot)
  • 1/4 cup dry white vermouth or dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped mixed fresh herbs, such as flat-leaf parsley and chives
  • 1/4 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 to 3 lemon wedges for serving
Be sure to have all your ingredients prepped for the sauce (shallots diced, herbs chopped) before you begin searing the scallops

Remove the tough abductor muscle from the side of each scallop (some scallops are sold with the muscle already removed). If you feel any grit on the scallops, rinse them under cold water. Pat the scallops dry with paper towels; surface moisture impedes browning.  

Heat a 10- or 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the oil and butter, if using, and heat until quite hot. Pat the scallops dry once more and put them in the pan in a single, uncrowded layer. Season with salt and pepper and let sear undisturbed until one side is browned and crisp, 2 to 4 minutes. Using tongs, turn the scallops and sear until the second side is well browned and the scallops are almost firm to the touch, 2 to 4 minutes. Take the pan off the heat, transfer the scallops to a plate, and set them in a warm spot. Let the pan cool for a minute before you make the sauce.

Seared Scallops with Herb-Butter Pan Sauce Recipe

Return the pan to medium heat. Add a piece of the butter (1/2 Tbs.) and the shallots and sauté until the shallots begin to soften, about 1 minute. Add the vermouth or wine and simmer until reduced by about half, another 1 to 2 minutes. Add the herbs and lemon zest. Reduce the heat to low, add the remaining butter, and whisk constantly until the butter melts into the sauce. Return the scallops and any accumulated juices to the pan. Gently roll the scallops in the sauce to warm them through. Taste for salt and pepper and serve immediately with lemon wedges on the side to squeeze over the scallops.

Serving Suggestions

Serve with an Arugula & Fennel Salad with Orange & Fennel Seed Dressing & Toasted Hazelnuts and Real Chocolate Mousse for dessert.

nutrition information (per serving):
Size : based on three servings, Calories (kcal): 346, Fat (kcal): 22, Fat Calories (g): 195, Saturated Fat (g): 9, Protein (g): 26, Monounsaturated Fat (g): 10, Carbohydrates (mg): 5, Polyunsaturated Fat (mg): 2, Sodium (g): 668, Cholesterol (g): 80, Fiber (g): 0,

Photo: Scott Phillips

Great melding of flavors and I especially benefited from video (slow melting of butter). Simple and easy

Thank you for the wonderful directions! Never cooked scallops before, but made these for our 48th anniversary and they were a huge success. My husband said they were the best scallops he'd ever had!

Are you kidding simply the best ever. If you dint try this you are crazy. Instead of Vermouth I used a hot pepper wine the reduced beautifully and not tangy at all. DELICIOUS!!!

This was my first time cooking scallops and this recipe is delicious. I cooked 6 and ate all 6. I will be making this again!

Got a little frustrated, too many people in the kitchen, so rather than searing the scallops, I just stirred them to cook in the butter and olive oil til tender and cooked through. Made the sauce and let them simmer in the sauce for a couple of minutes. Everybody loved them. I will be making this again and again, I'm sure.

We love scallops. This recipe was fantastic and simple. We bought big, fresh sea scallops from Whole Foods...added sides of ET bread and roasted (w/ bacon of course) Brussel sprouts... As good as any fancy restaurant. Thanks!

Simple to make and quite tasty.

Simple to make and quite tasty.

This is a wonderfully simple and very tasty recipe. It is my go to for healthy scallop dishes and we have it often for family and company.

Sauce is to die for. The scallops themselves didn't come out that crispy but they were fine. I made it with basil. Definitely wanted more lemon but that's what you have the lemon wedges for.

Did not love this recipe. In fairness, I am not a huge scallop fan but I have had better. My husband is a lover of this mollusk and was also unimpressed. I expected more of a sauce than this recipe produced. All said, based on other ratings, I am clearly in the minority so go ahead and give it a try.

Did not love this recipe. In fairness, I am not a huge scallop lover but I have had better. My husband is a lover of this mollusk and also was unimpressed.

Excellent & quick. Good enough for a dinner party.

I used the right scallops but apparently I did not dry them enough because they took 3X as long to turn golden seared. They turned out more chewy than soft but still tasted okay. The sauce is WONDERFUL. I used fresh marjoram, scallions, cilantro, and a tiny bit of tarragon, and twice the amount of lemon zest. It was really good. I squeezed some meyer lemon juice on it at the end.

simple delicious great romantic meal

excellant, used cast iron skillet, slightly less butter, ramps instead of scallions. Served with spaghetti sqash, sugar peas

Made the recipe exactly as it is here on the website. Family loved even though they are not usually crazy about scallops. Keeper.

My NYE entree course. A resounding success. Didn't have chives handy so threw in a little marjoram. And preheat your plates. Much nicer kept warm. I also served it with thinly sliced toasted baguette. To soak up the sauce. Divine

Absolutely scrumptious! We seared some squid in a separate frypan and used the same pan sauce over both the scallops and squid, with steamed rice and it was lovely!

This was my first time making scallops and I couldn't have picked a better recipe!! Omgosh!!!! It was the best and we can't wait to make it again. Already thinking of who to invite over to share this excellent dish with! Thank you!

Delicious. My wife and I loved it.

Used Sauvignon Blanc & regular salt & pepper. Served over fettucine with asparagus. Delicious.

Didn't have shallots so used finely minced leeks and WOW was this totally delicious!!! Made the sauce with a readily available Pinot Grigio and served over a bed of fresh fettucine. This recipe now sets the bar for a luscious quick gourmet meal.

This is a great recipe. The flavor of the sauce is wonderfully delicious. I did not have shallots so I used finely minced onion. The wine we used was a Sauvignon Blanc. Did use fresh parsley and chives. Will make again for sure.

Delicious and the recipe is written perfectly - no problems or adjustments at all!

My oh my, this was really quite delicious. The scallops browned just fine and the flavors were fantastic! I highly recommend this dish...with all 5 stars.

I love scallops and this recipe is perfect.

Scallops are one of my husband's favorites so I am always looking for good recipes. This not good, it is great! I did add a small amount of fresh oregano to the herbs. Also, after cooking the scallops, I tossed the sauce with some cooked spaghetti. Add the wonderful arugula salad and you have an A+ meal. My husband raved about it.

I have been cooking scallops for a lot of years, in chowder, pan fried etc. This has to be the best ever quick and to the point, Nova Scotia scallops look out this summer

This recipe is pure scallop perfection. The sear on the scallops provides a wonderful, tasty crust that contrasts so well with the tenderness of the scallops themselves, and the flavor of the sauce is to die for. This recipe is a huge hit, and I'll be sure to make it many times again in the future. I wouldn't change a thing.

Outstanding! My husband, who doesn't always love leftovers, said he'd eat this dish again for the next *two* meals in a row! Fresh herbs were hard to come by yesterday, so I used a refrigerated mixed herb paste that I found in the produce section of the grocery store and the results were awesome. This will become a new staple for us!!

Excellent recipe. The only thing I would change is to put the wine/vermouth in the very hot pan before the butter so it doesnt burn. Then proceed. Awesome!!

Incredibly delicious and simple to prepare. I used vermouth and skipped the parsley since we were out. Our 12 & 14 year olds enjoyed the scallops as well.

Will become a staple in my kitchen, and I'm not a huge seafood fan. Along with the herb pan sauce, I tossed in some halved grape tomatoes and roasted asparagus and served on top of fettucini pasta. Yummy!

The recipe included all the important details and worked perfectly. No complaints.


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