Tips to Perfectly Seared Sea Scallops

A perfectly seared scallop features a crunchy brown crust and a sweet and creamy middle that is a thing of culinary beauty. But recreating restaurant quality scallops at home can be tricky. I’ve found success following these simple steps. If you’re a scallop fan, these tips may be just the ticket for you to find your own scallop perfection.

  1. First and foremost, make sure your scallops are very, very dry before they hit the pan. Improperly dried scallops are the biggest deterrent to properly cooked scallops. (A mistake I’ve made before as well, believe you me!) Unfortunately, most of the scallops you’ll find as a home cook have been soaked in a chemical to whiten them. This soaking makes them very wet. Ask your local fishmonger for “dry” scallops. You never know, they might be able to get them for you. And if you can’t get “dry” scallops, dab the heck out of them with paper towel before you even think about putting them in the pan.
  2. Speaking of the pan, it’s got to be super, super hot before a scallop gets anywhere near it. I prefer to use a heavy cast iron pan.
  3. Use a mixture of butter and a high burning point oil to cook your scallops. That means, no olive oil! Grapeseed oil is my favorite for this type of job. But canola oil will do just fine.
  4. Don’t crowd your pan. Do a few scallops at a time so that your pan stays hot.
  5. Cook the scallops on each side for no more than 2 minutes, depending on their size. And leave them be on each side for the entire cooking time. That way they will develop a nice crust.
  6. Serve scallops immediately. They are not nice when they sit around. So make sure all your other prep work and cooking is done and start cooking the scallops only when everything else is plated up and ready to be served.


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