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How to sear scallops

July 25, 2010

When you cook scallops you want to get the Freshest you can find. Buy from a nice place that specializes in fresh fish. If you live in a city that is not near the ocean and cannot get good fresh scallops, try to find a good fish purveyor that can sell you fresh/frozen scallops. If they were frozen immediately they should defrost into a good clean product.

Scallops are easy to cook, but they are also easy to over cook, so they require some attention in the pan. Lay your scallops out on a plate and pat them very dry with a paper towel. You want to remove all moisture from the surface of the scallops in order to give them a nice sear and that golden color. Put a pan on your stove at a medium to high heat and let it get hot. It is especially important with scallops to let the pan get plenty hot before you start the cooking. If it is not hot enough, the scallop will cook to the center before it gets hot enough on the outside to sear. Add a light drizzle of oil to the bottom of the pan. Any vegetable oil will work, keeping in mind that olive oil will start smoking when it is hot. When the oil runs quickly about the pan (or begins to smoke) add a light dusting of salt to the scallops then set them flat side down in the pan quickly one at a time, starting with the biggest scallop and working down in size. Resist the urge to shake the pan or move the scallops around. Just let them sit until the edges begin to turn golden. When you notice them getting golden you can use a pair of tongs to check the cooked side. When all the scallops have a nice caramel color to them flip them all over then IMMEDIATELY remove the pan from the heat. There is enough heat in the pan to continue cooking them and it is important not to let them get over cooked. They only need to be seared golden brown on one side. You can let them sit in the hot pan for another 30 seconds or so before removing them to a plate and letting them rest. After resting another minute or 2 they are ready to serve. Serve them as they are or add a drizzle of fresh lemon or a dash of paprika. Guaranteed to please.

TIP: if you have trouble getting a proper golden sear you can also add a bit of butter to the pan. The butter will brown and help the scallop get a little more of that caramel color.

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