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Moroccan-Spiced Seared Scallops with Green Grape and Lemon Relish

Scott Phillips

Servings: 4

A blend of six spices you probably have in your pantry and a preserved-lemon shortcut make this impressive, exotic dish feasible for a weeknight meal. 


  • 1 medium lemon
  • Kosher salt
  • 1-1/2 cups seedless green grapes, quartered lengthwise and at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh mint
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. sweet Hungarian paprika
  • 1 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1-1/2 lb. large all-natural “dry” sea scallops, side muscles removed
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Nutritional Information

  • Calories (kcal) : 320
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 130
  • Fat (g): 15
  • Saturated Fat (g): 2
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 2
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 10
  • Cholesterol (mg): 55
  • Sodium (mg): 560
  • Carbohydrates (g): 17
  • Fiber (g): 2
  • Protein (g): 29


  • Using a vegetable peeler, remove the zest from the lemon in strips (yellow part only). Reserve the lemon. In a small saucepan, combine the lemon zest with 1/2 cup water and 1 tsp. salt. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat and cook until the liquid reduces to about 1 Tbs., about 10 minutes. Drain, rinse, drain again, and pat dry. Finely mince the lemon zest and combine it with the grapes, 2 Tbs. of the olive oil, scallions, cilantro, and mint in a medium bowl.
  • In a small bowl, combine the cumin, paprika, turmeric, cinnamon, and ginger.
  • Pat the scallops dry. Season them liberally with salt and pepper and coat them with the spice mixture.
  • Heat 1 Tbs. of the olive oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add half of the scallops and cook, turning once, until seared on the outside but still translucent in the center, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a warm plate. Repeat with the remaining 1 Tbs. oil and scallops.
  • Divide the scallops among 4 plates and serve with the relish. Cut the reserved lemon into quarters and squeeze over the scallops and relish. Serve immediately.

Serve with Couscous with Chickpeas and Pistachios on the side.


Rate or Review

Reviews (4 reviews)

  • cookingjudy | 02/05/2018

    This is a favorite so have made it several times. The spice rub is wonderful and does not over power the scallops flavor. The only thing I changed is that I use preserved lemon rind - pulp removed, rinsed and minced - in place of the fresh lemon called for in the recipe. I think the saltiness of the preserved lemon gives the sweet grape relish a nice flavor boost. This is a wonderful recipe, it is easy and quick to prepare.

  • libbyf | 07/24/2010

    This was delicious! Usually I just pan sear scallops, so I was a little unsure about all the different flavors in this recipe overwhelming the scallops, but I followed the recipe exactly and it was great! The lemon peel was very flavorful in the grape relish. Definitely worth following all the steps!

  • tmcguff | 12/03/2009

    I made this twice, reading and re-reading the recipe many times. The spice coating came out chalky and dry no matter how much olice oil I used.The process of boiling the lemon zest only served to leach out lemon flavor, hardly a substitute for preserved lemon, and a waste of time.Sorry....I tried. This one didn't work.

  • Jenniam | 09/08/2009

    Terrific seasoning to put together. I made the scallops, my kids LOVED them. The following day we went to a BBQ and I put it on a Ratatouille in filo, baked them and it was a huge hit!

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