Monday, February 22, 2010

Pan Seared Scallops

One semester in law school down! Five more to go....
Rafe did great in his first semester!  I was so proud of how hard he worked to keep up with reading and assignments, and during finals he was ALL business.  He didn't know all of his grades until after he started classes for second semester....
After learning how well he had done, I thought it was only fitting that we celebrate with a special meal.  I asked Rafe what he was craving, since it was his special dinner.  I thought he would ask for a brisket or a pork roast - but he had eaten so much rich food over the holidays, he just wanted a simple broiled piece of fish.  Well, of course I was going to do what he wanted -- it was his treat....but BORING!

While I was at the grocery store picking up his fish I saw some gorgeous sea scallops.  I couldn't pass them up - so I got a half pound to cook up as an appetizer to our broiled fish entree.  I love sea scallops (they're the big guys - not to be confused with bay scallops) - they're tender, sweet, and they cook up in a matter of minutes...unfortunately they're usually a bit pricey - but for a special occasion, and an appetizer portion, they are definitely good for a splurge.

I like my sea scallops pretty simply prepared - just a simple pan sear and some fresh herbs.  I don't like to use much sauce or anything too overpowering...I would hate to cover up the perfect briny sweetness of a fresh scallop!

These guys were really quick to make.  While I melted a pat of butter in a frying pan over medium high, I patted the scallops dry with a paper towel.  If they aren't dry they won't get a good sear.  Then I sprinkled them with salt, garlic powder, and a little dusting of cayenne pepper.  Once the butter was just starting to bubble I gently placed the scallops in the pan one by one - leaving a little space between each one to make sure they didn't steam.

My biggest issue with scallops is that they are often overcooked.  They don't need very much time in the pan.  In fact, I wouldn't walk away once they're in the pan.  If you look closely you can see the the scallop meat turning opaque as it cooks - the opaque coloring will start to work its way up from the bottom of the scallop through toward the top.  One it is just before the halfway point - flip them over. 

They'll cook even quicker on the other side.  They won't need any more than 2 minutes on this side.  Take them off just before they are entirely opaque (they will finish cooking through as they sit). 
I put them on a simple paper plate, chopped some chives and parsley over them....and Rafe and I dug in.
The seasonings on the surface created a toothsome crust which gave way to the sweet, tender meat of the scallop.  The herbs and light squeeze of lemon gave a fresh POP to the outside.

Scallops are pretty expensive for a whole entree - but sometimes you can catch a sale...better yet - make a little appetizer portion as a treat.  Scallops are fairly healthy (until you sear them in butter I suppose) so there are definitely worse things to blow your money on!


  1. Scallops are the one food I swore I would NEVER eat as a kid. No matter how my tastes changed, I thought scallops were disgusting. Then about 5 years ago, I had one and haven't looked back since. LOVE them!! These look absolutely delicious :)


  2. Thanks Sues!
    They were really delicious!! Glad you got over your fear of scallops! Nobody should miss out on them!! YUM!

  3. I am salivating here in New York. Beautiful description Alicia!

  4. gorgeous - but why a paper plate????

    Also deglaze the pan with a little blood orange juice, whick in a nother tablespoon of butter and drizzle over the top - mmmmmm

  5. I know! I'm a bit ashamed about the paper plate! But the scallops were so tasty and hot that we just had to eat them immediately, and save our dinner plates for the boring broiled fish!

    That blood orange sauce sounds divine! I'll have to try it since I often get blood oranges from my Boston Organics delivery!