The secret to cooking scallops in a pan is to give them a nice sear. That beautiful golden crust with a slight crunch that takes scallops to a whole new level of deliciousness.
So what’s the best way to obtain great results? We share our tips and tricks as well as recipes from chefs around the world so you can cook scallops like a pro.
How to Cook Scallops in a Pan
This method works for any quantity of scallops cooked in a pan:
1. Pat the scallops dry with a towel. Season on both sides with salt and pepper.
2. Warm a pan on medium-high. Add oil and let it heat up.
3. Place the scallops in the pan and, most importantly, do not move them! You’ll be tempted to move them but, trust us, you’ll only interfere with that great sear.
4. The scallops will be ready to flip over when they loosen up (about 2-3 minutes). Once you turn them you’ll see that beautiful golden color and you’ll know you did your job right.
5. Cook for 1-2 minutes until the center is no longer translucent. Serve immediately. Accompany with butter and lemon wedges, if desired.
How Chefs Cook Scallops in a Pan: Must-Try Recipes!
First up we have a fantastic scallop recipe from famed New York chef Michael White. He pairs seared scallops with a butternut squash caponata that is to die for.
This creative recipe from chef JP McMahon pairs pan-seared scallops with leeks, wild garlic, steamed mussels and a fragrant buttermilk sauce.
If you are searching for a truly decadent dish look no further than this exquisite recipe for seared scallops topped with osetra caviar served over potato mousseline.
Scallops may feel fancy, but they’re in no way fussy or difficult. In fact, they take just about 5 minutes to cook and even less time to prep (too good to be true, am I right?). Follow our basic scallop cooking commandments below, and you’ll be flipping them confidently in no time.
1. Bigger is better.
Big and jumbo scallops are meatier and sweeter. They also have less of a chance of overcooking and getting rubbery.
2. The little side muscles need to go.
The small bit of muscle tissue on the side of each scallop is totally safe to eat, but it’s tough to chew. To remove it, pinch and peel.
3. Pat ‘em dry.
Excess moisture will create steam and prevent proper searing. After removing the muscle, blot them with a paper towel before doing anything else!
4. Get the grill (or skillet) HOT.
In our opinion, a scallop is only as good as its deeply seared golden crust. Your grill or skillet is ready once it’s just starting to smoke. When you add the scallops, you should hear them sizzle! If it’s not hot enough, the scallops won’t caramelize.
5. Cook them naked.
Don’t you dare marinate them (it’ll mask their flavor!) or even toss them with olive oil. Instead, generously oil the grates of your grill with something neutral, like vegetable oil. If you’re using a skillet, heat a mixture of butter and olive oil. Butter has a pretty low smoking point, which can lead to burning, but we love it so much with seared scallops. Combining it with olive oil helps offset this problem for such a short cook time.
With a little know-how, you can cook restaurant-quality scallops at home. We’ll show you three different ways to fix them, including how to cook scallops in a skillet and on the grill. Of course we’ll share some easy scallop recipes you can try, too. Given how fast the seafood cooks and the amazing flavor they add, you’ll wonder why you haven’t been cooking scallops on a regular basis all your life.
Don’t limit scallops to your favorite seafood restaurant. Scallops are a quick and versatile ingredient for home cooking as well. There are two basic types of scallops: the larger sea scallops (about 1-1/2 inches in diameter) and the smaller bay scallops (1/2 inch), which are sweeter. We will focus on cooking the more common sea scallops here.
There are several options for cooking scallops, but almost all have the following elements in common.
- Quick-cooking technique: Scallops are a lean protein source and should be cooked quickly under high heat to prevent them from drying out. Also, a high-heat cooking method results in a pleasant browning on the outside and a delicious caramelized flavor.
- Added fat: Because scallops are so lean, they require some fat such as oil or butter during cooking.
- Seasoning: Scallops are mild and need a little flavor boost. It can be as simple as a squeeze of lemon, a dry rub, or a complex Asian sauce.
Scallop Cooking Basics
Regardless of the cooking method you choose, follow a few general tips when working with scallops:
- Thaw scallops, if frozen. You can thaw them several hours or overnight in the refrigerator. Do not thaw scallops at room temperature.
- Rinse scallops and pat them dry with paper towels before cooking. If scallops have too much moisture on the outside, they won’t brown properly.
- Cut large scallops in half to ensure even cooking (as shown above).
- Minutes count! Cook scallops just until they are opaque; otherwise they can get tough quickly. If you’re not using a recipe and need to know how long to cook scallops, use the opaque cue. If scallops are opaque they are done.
How to Cook Scallops on the Stove
When it comes to cooking scallops, nothing is faster or easier than pan-searing them on the stovetop. Don’t let the word “sear” scare you; it simply means to brown a food using high heat. Here’s how:
- Choose a heavy, quality skillet for the job. Cast iron and stainless steel work well because they provide even heating and can withstand high temperatures. Don’t crowd the scallops in the pan or they will steam instead of cook. Cook them in batches, if necessary.
- For one pound of scallops, heat about 2 tablespoons combination butter and oil (1 Tbsp. of each is great) in the pan over medium-high heat.
- If you want a thin crust on the outside of the scallops, coat them in flour. For every pound of scallops, use 2 to 3 tablespoons flour. Place the flour in a resealable plastic bag; add the scallops and toss to coat. You can also mix the flour with 1 to 2 teaspoons seasoning, such as blackened steak seasoning or Cajun seasoning.
- Cook scallops in the hot skillet 3-6 minutes or until browned and opaque, turning once.
- Cooking scallops tip: This timing is a good gauge on how long to cook scallops, but their opaqueness is the best test to know when scallops are done.
Tip: Another seasoning option is to use a gourmet prepared sauce. Scallops are a great choice to pair with a delicious sauce from a specialty food market. Stir in 1/4 to 1/2 cup sauce into your skillet at the end of cooking for a simple flavor boost.
How to Broil Scallops in the Oven
Another speedy way to cook scallops is broiling. Unlike searing, you don’t have to monitor your scallops quite as closely while they broil. Just follow these instructions:
- Preheat the broiler. Place scallops on a greased, unheated rack of a broiler pan. If you like, you can thread three or four scallops onto skewers, leaving 1/4-inch spaces between pieces.
- Season as desired and brush with a melted butter-oil combination (2-3 Tbsp. total)
- Broil about 4 inches from the heat for 6 to 10 minutes or until scallops are opaque, turning and brushing with additional butter-oil mixture halfway through broiling. Serve with tartar sauce, sweet-and-sour sauce, or another favorite prepared sauce.
How to Grill Scallops
Many home cooks will declare grilling as the best way to cook scallops. Probably because they use a flavorful marinade to get the biggest flavor from scallops. The most common way to grill sea scallops is to thread them onto skewers (with veggies and fruits if you want to make a meal of it). Good produce options to pair with grilled scallop kabobs include sweet pepper pieces, onion wedges, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, and pineapple chunks. Many people like to combine shrimp and scallops on a skewer as well.
- To prepare scallops for grilling, first season or marinate as desired.
- Two of our favorite all-purpose marinades are from the Grilled Grapefruit, Orange, and Scallop Kabobs and the Pineapple and Scallop Skewers recipes. Cover scallops in marinade and let stand 10 to 15 minutes; drain, reserving marinade.
- Thread scallops and other ingredients, if using, onto skewers. (Note: If you’re using wooden skewers, soak them in a shallow dish in enough water to cover for 1 hour before threading on food.) Grill kabobs on a well-greased grill rack directly over medium heat 5 to 8 minutes or until scallops turn opaque, turning once halfway through grilling and brushing with reserved marinade, if using.
- For indirect grilling: Season and skewer the same way and grill over medium indirect heat 11 to 14 minutes.
How to Buy and Store Scallops
If you’re unsure where to buy scallops, search out fresh scallops at a reputable fish market or the fish counter at your grocery store. There are two basic types of scallops: the larger sea scallops (about 1-1/2 inches in diameter) and the smaller bay scallops (1/2 inch), which are sweeter. When buying scallops look (and smell) for:
- Fresh ocean scent (not sour or sulfurlike)
- Scallops that are firm and moist and retain their shape when touched
Frozen scallops are convenient and rival fresh in terms of taste and texture. Learning how to cook frozen scallops is as simple as letting them thaw in the fridge for a few hours before cooking.
To store fresh scallops: Refrigerate, covered in the clear juices up to 2 days or freeze up to 3 months.
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Pan Seared Scallops sautéed in a delicious browned butter with garlic in under 10 minutes. Restaurant level food you can make faster than pasta.
If you’ve gone the seafood route with us before by trying our Easy Shrimp Broil, Crab Salad or Crispy Fried Calamari, you’ll remember how easy it is to turn everyday seafood into a classy dinner with little effort.
Pan Seared Scallops are a quick and easy dinner option you may not immediately consider when thinking of your next weeknight meal (I know, most people would think salmon or shrimp when they think seafood), but scallops are just as easy and I would argue more delicious than both salmon and shrimp!
People love seafood, and scallops hold a special place in the hearts (and stomachs) of many cultures. There’s even a Catholic saint whose symbol is a scallop shell. Since they don’t naturally have a very strong taste, you can add scallops to a lot of other dishes without overpowering the flavor. Try them in pasta, chowder, or as a garnish for the proteins, like steak. There really isn’t a place scallops don’t belong.
This is an easy recipe to try for weeknights or when you’re in a rush, since scallops are a delicious, quick dish that will make it look like you spent hours preparing them when they really only take a few minutes. The most important part is making sure the scallops get up to the right temperature before you eat them.
HOW TO COOK SCALLOPS
- Start out by rinsing off the scallops after you’ve taken off the side muscles. Make sure you dry them completely (I use paper towels or a clean dish towel for this) or they won’t brown properly or get a good sear when you sauté them. Add dashes of salt and pepper to season them.
- Put your cast iron or nonstick skillet on the burner on high heat and then add your butter and olive oil to it.
- Set your scallops in the pan in a single layer with a spatula or tongs (be careful, because the butter and oil will spit in a hot pan.)
- Sear scallops for 1 minute on both sides and then lower the temperature to medium heat. (Do not move the scallops as they’re cooking, they won’t get as browned as they should).
- Add the garlic, then cook for another 20 seconds.
- Move the scallops to a plate and serve them up.
Pan Seared Scallop Flavor Variations
- Lemon juice or lemon wedges: adding just a little citrus to fish amplifies the natural flavor and goes great with the garlic and butter and makes a great pan sauce. For some texture, you can use lemon zest as well.
- White wine: use white wine with melted butter and olive oil mixture to give the scallops a very different flavor.
- Shallots or chives: try finely chopping up these onion varieties if you want to give this dish a kick.
- Parmesan: sprinkle a little parmesan onto the scallops right before you take them out of the pan and let the leftover heat melt it for a mild but delicious addition.
What to Serve Pan Seared Scallops with:
- Creamy Garlic Mashed Potatoes: rich and creamy, with garlic notes that will match the scallops, this mashed potato recipe is a winner.
- Spaghetti Squash: this is a lighter side dish that still brings out the garlic, butter flavors. But then again, this squash goes well with almost anything.
- Rainbow Roasted Vegetables: fun to make, pretty to look at, tasty to eat. All you have to do is cut them up, arrange them and roast them.
WHY EAT SCALLOPS?
Scallops are basically only made up of water and protein, with a tiny bit of fat. They can be up to 80% protein with relatively low calories and, depending on what you cook them with, they have no carbs. They are also pretty obviously gluten-free. If you remove the butter in this recipe and just use olive oil, our pan seared scallops are a healthy, low-fat dinner. Another very good reason to eat them is because they’re delicious.
THINGS TO AVOID/TROUBLESHOOTING
When buying your ingredients, look for large sea scallops. You can tell whether or not they are good a few different ways. Here are ways to tell if they are not good.
- Shiny or wet-looking : This means they are not too fresh, unless you’re buying live ones that are in water when you get them. Wet scallops that have been out water for a long time are leaking something.
- Soft : Scallops should be firm. Squishy scallops are a no-no. This means that the meat is not fresh and has started to go very bad.
- Stinky : If you go to buy your scallops and they smell like old fish, that is a definite sign that they are at best not fresh and at worst a gastrointestinal nightmare. Fresh scallops should smell a lot like saltwater.
CAN YOU EAT SCALLOPS RAW?
With proper preparation, you can eat some seafood raw. However, for our scallop recipe you definitely want the internal temperature to be 145 degrees F (62.7 degrees C), which is a universally safe temperature for cooked fish and shellfish, according to the USDA’s website. Cooking scallops is also a good way to make sure that bacteria is properly removed from your meal before you eat it.
- Serve: for the good of you and your insides, don’t leave scallops at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
- Store: you can store cooked scallops in the fridge for up to 3 days before it becomes a bad idea to eat them.
- Freeze: if you keep them in an airtight container, cooked scallops are good frozen for up to 3 months.
Pan seared scallops are a great way to eat gourmet without paying the gourmet price. Even if this is your first time cooking, you’re sure to impress.
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Today we’re showing you how to prepare Perfect Pan-Seared Scallops – served with a simple, flavorful pan sauce! Scallops are one of our favorite types of seafood to eat, but they can be a little tricky to cook!
You’ll first want to start with the freshest possible sea scallops you can find (sea scallops are the large-sized scallops, not the smaller ones), and ideally you want to use “day boat” scallops which were harvested on a boat that returned to shore the same day the scallops were caught.
Perfect pan-seared scallops take just minutes to cook, and one of the secrets to ensuring that wonderful golden, caramelized color is to make sure that the scallops are perfectly dry before you start to sear them. If the scallops are wet, they won’t brown in the pan!
You also want to cook the scallops over very high heat using a combination of clarified butter (which has a much higher smoke point than regular butter) as well as a lighter, neutral-flavored oil such as canola or grape seed so it doesn’t detract from the wonderful taste of the scallops.
While sautéing, avoid over-crowding the sauté pan (don’t let the scallops touch each other in the pan) and also, avoid turning the scallops over and over as they cook. Just allow each side to brown and caramelize and then remove them from the pan once they are cooked through.
We love serving our scallops with a simple pan sauce made with vermouth or a dry white wine (such as chardonnay), fresh herbs, lemon zest and a touch of butter! This light sauce comes together quickly as well, and it is the perfect complement to your perfect pan seared scallops!
Creating Pan Seared Sea Scallops with a thoroughly cooked golden-brown with a crispy outside crust, the way you would expect at the restaurants! They’re extremely simple to make at home and less expensive than eating out. We want to get superior pan-seared sea scallops that have been thoroughly brown and crusted and no hint of burnt-flavors. So, how do you pan-sear scallops?
To pan-sear scallops, the surface of the scallop is cooked until a brown golden crust is formed at high temperatures by sautéing in a non-stick pan. In order to get the desired golden-brown crust, the pan temperature must be at 400-450°F, the surface of the scallop must get above 300 °F.
How to Make Gordon Ramsay Pan Sear Scallops
Scallops come either wet or dry, buy the dry ones. Wet scallops have been treated with a chemical solution to preserve it, which will give an off-taste. If you aren’t sure if the scallops are wet or dry, ask your local supermarket fishmonger if frozen read the label on the package.
Always wipe your scallops dry with a paper towel because moisture will stop it from browning and devolving a golden crust. Don’t be afraid to get your pan extremely hot, use high smoke point oil such as avocado. You need to quickly sear the scallop within minutes before overcooking the inside.
Equipment Needed for Pan Seared Scallops
- 10″-12″ Non-Stick Fry Pan
- 12″ Tongs
Step 1. Rinse sea scallops with cold water and thoroughly and pat dry.
Step 2. On high heat place, a 10″-12″ sauté pan skillet on the stovetop, then add the butter and avocado oil. Salt and pepper the sea scallops. Heat for 2 minutes (make sure oil is extremely hot) carefully add the sea scallops; they should not touch each other.
Step 3. Sear the sea scallops for 1 1/2 minutes on each side until golden brown. Making sure the sea scallops develop a 1/4-inch golden crust on both sides while still being translucent in the center not to overcook.
Step 4. Serve sea scallops immediately once cooking is complete or hold in pan for final assemble to plate
Perfectly cooked pan-seared scallops are a beautiful thing. Like candy from the ocean, they’ve got a nice caramelized crust on the outside and are soft and sweet inside. They’re decadent, sexy, and undeniably showy. And they’re easier to make than they look: Start to finish, you can make scallops with a pan sauce in less than 15 minutes. Serve with some crusty white bread, a simple salad, and a bottle of chilled white wine, and you’ve got an almost-instant, completely elegant dinner for a romantic date at home.
Pan-seared scallops don’t need much to make them delicious, but a little butter basting and pan sauce action certainly never hurts. You can push the flavors of this dish in different directions at three different stages of the preparation: seasoning, basting, and making the pan sauce. So many flavor combinations would work wonderfully with the sweet rich flavors of scallops and butter. All you need to know is this simple four-step method, so go ahead and choose your own adventure.
Decide how many scallops you’re going to cook, and make sure you buy “dry” scallops, not “wet” scallops (which have chemical additives). Pat them dry, and check to see if the little muscle on the side has been removed from each—if not, pull it off with your fingers. Sprinkle them generously with salt and pepper or your seasoning of choice. Get creative with your spice cupboard: try a little cumin or lime zest or smoked paprika.
Pick a heavy skillet that’ll fit the number of scallops you’re cooking—you want to make sure you can get them all in the pan with plenty of space between each—then swirl in a bit of oil and heat over medium-high heat until it’s very hot. Gently place your seasoned scallops in the pan and DO NOT TOUCH THEM until they are deeply browned on one side, about three minutes for an average-sized scallop.
3. Baste with butter and aromatics
Flip your scallops carefully with tongs, and add a few little pieces of cold butter to the pan (a bit more than you think you should, you won’t regret it) along with an aromatic of choice. You could use a dried chili pepper or a sprig of fresh herbs or some capers or a slice of citrus. Again, this is the fun part of not following a recipe—choose whatever aromatic you think would best compliment your seasoning. Use a large spoon to baste the scallops with the butter continuously while they finish cooking, about 3 minutes longer. Be careful not to over-cook your scallops: if your scallops are on the small side, it may not take as long.
4. Make a pan sauce
Pull the scallops from the pan and set them on your serving plate. Add a splash of liquid to the butter in the pan: you could use lemon juice, white wine, stock, orange juice, etc, depending on what flavor you think would work best with your seasoning and basting ingredients. Give it a good stir over medium heat, then remove from heat and pull out the aromatics. Add just a bit more cold butter to finish, and some chopped fresh herbs of choice if you like. Pour the sauce around the scallops on your plate and you’ve got a show-stopping scallop dish ready to serve. And best of all, you can say it’s your own creation—I won’t mind—you didn’t even follow a recipe.
Pan Seared Scallops – simple and beautifully seared scallops served with a flavorful brown butter and lemon pan sauce. So easy, delectable and juicy!
Aside from shrimp and fish, scallops is also one of our favorite seafood to eat. But they’re kind of tricky to cook, though. For all we know, cooking scallops could also have you end up washing your money down the drain. If you overcook them even just for few minutes, you’ll end up with rubbery or chalkboard scallops. Yikes!
But once you get the hang of cooking it, you’ll be wanting it on a weekly rotation, especially that there are already prepped scallops packed at any grocery store.
Of course, nothing beats those large day boat scallops which are harvested on a boat that returned to the shore the same day the scallops were caught.
How to Cook Scallops?
Perfect pan-seared scallops takes only minutes to cook, however, you need to learn the very basics of how to cook scallops so you’ll achieve that perfect golden brown crust.
First off, you need to make sure that your scallops are completely dry. Any excess liquid will interfere the searing process. Instead of a tender, brown-crusted scallop, you’ll have tough and pale ones.
What I do to take remove any excess liquid is to line a a large plate with paper towels, place the scallops on it and top it with more towels and let it sit while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. Once they’re dry, you can start seasoning them.
Second, check the heat of your pan. Cooking scallops requires a smoking hot pan. Moreover, do not overcrowd the pan with scallops as this will drop the heat level of the pan. Always work in batches. And this one is important: DO NOT be tempted to turn over the scallops immediately. Moving them around prevents the forming of that nice brown crust. Let the hot pan do its job, friends!
And lastly, serve it right away. Scallops are best enjoyed straight from the pan. It gets rubbery if you wait too long to serve it.
Pan-seared scallops are best served along with roasted brussel sprouts or with your preferred roasted or steamed veggies. Enjoy!
Tips and Notes:
- Use a non-stick pan or cast iron for this recipe.
- If you’re using frozen scallops, make sure to thaw them overnight in the fridge on a rack (with space between them) with a pan underneath to catch all the drippings.
- You may omit the creole seasoning if it’s too spicy for your taste.
- Do not overcrowd the pan. Cook them by batches.
- Let the scallops brown first before moving them around.
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Pan Seared Scallop
- ▢ 1 -1 1/2 pounds large sea scallops , tendons removed
- ▢ Creole seasoning
- ▢ Salt and Pepper to taste
- ▢ 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- ▢ ¼ cup dry white wine
- ▢ 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ▢ 3 cloves garlic , minced
- ▢ ¼ teaspoon zest (optional)
- ▢ Juice from 1/2 Lemon (about 1 tablespoons)
- ▢ Red pepper flakes (optional)
- ▢ 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
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How to Pan Sear Scallops
Rinse the scallops with cold water. Pat dry with paper towels. Line a large plate with paper towels, then place scallops on paper towels. Top with more towels and thoroughly pat dry to absorb any liquid to ensure a good sear. Let it sit while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Salt and pepper (you may omit pepper if creole seasoning is too spicy) scallops , then season with salt free creole/cajun seasoning. Add oil to cast iron skillet, then heat on medium to high heat until it just starts to reach the smoking point. Once cast iron is hot, add scallops, leaving space between them, sear on each side , about 2-3 minutes, until firm almost firm to touch and golden brown.
In order to get a good sear, do not turn scallops around. Remove pan from the, heat, transfer the scallops to a plate, and set them in a warm spot. Let the pan cool for a minute before proceeding with the sauce. Add butter to the skillet , followed by, garlic, saute for about one minute or less, add white wine, stir and scrape up any brown bits from the side of the pan. simmer until reduced by about half, another 1 to 2 minute.
Add lemon zest, lemon juice, remaining butter, salt and pepper flakes, if desired, adjust seasonings. Return scallops back to the pan, along with any liquid from the scallops. Sir to coat , add parsley. Remove immediately from the heat and serve with the pan.
how to cook perfect scallops can be tricky for sure. High heat? Low heat? How long do we cook them to make perfect scallops? No problem, we have you covered. Scallops are one of my personal favorite mollusks from the ocean. Scallops can be prepared and eaten a multitude of different ways using many techniques making them very versatile. I remember in culinary school the day we cooked scallops like it was yesterday.
Chef gave us the overview of what to do and what to consider when cooking scallops. Our Chef then cooked a few scallops during a demonstration. He used high heat and clarified butter and cooked them very quickly. The result was less than what I was expecting.
Allow me to explain my journey learning to how to cook perfect scallops. But first a few cool facts about scallops. 🙂
Full Definition of Scallops
Scal·lop / ˈskäləp; ˈskal-/
• n. 1. an edible bivalve mollusk (family Pectinidae) with a ribbed fan-shaped shell. Scallops swim by rapidly opening and closing the shell valves.
∎ a small pan or dish shaped like a scallop shell and used for baking or serving food.2. (usu. scallops) each of a series of convex rounded projections forming an ornamental edging cut in material or worked in lace or knitting.3. another term for escalope.
• v. (-loped , -lop·ing ) 1. [tr.] [usu. as adj.] (scalloped) ornament (an edge or material) with scallops: a scalloped neckline.2. [intr.] [usu. as n.] (scalloping) gather or dredge for scallops.3. [tr.] bake with milk or a sauce: [as adj.] (scalloped) scalloped potatoes.DERIVATIVES:scal·lop·er n
Scallops are one of the most popular seafood items due to their unique appealing texture and succulent flavors.
U.S. fishermen catch between 50 and 60 million pounds of scallops annually, and it is one of the nation’s most valuable fisheries.
Scallops have been among the top ten seafood items consumed in the U.S. for decades, and Americans eat on average between a 1/4 to a 1/3 of a pound of scallops per year.
Types of Scallop and Where Scallops Come From
There are three main types of scallops harvested in North America including the calico scallop, colossal sea scallop, and the bay scallop. Several types of wild and farm-raised scallops are also imported from Japan, China, and Europe. A description of common varieties of scallops, harvest locations, and their general size categories are provided in the Table below.
The scallop average cost in the year 2017 range from $20 to $30 a pound depending on where you are from. Scallops are always better-priced closer to port/fishing communities. With quality food items usually comes cost and scallops are what I would call an occasion protein, birthdays, anniversaries all the way up to weddings and eating out at nice restaurants.
Back to the Lessons Learned to Cook Perfect Scallops
Back to the culinary school classroom, Chef finished the demonstration cooking scallops and had all of us eat some to test the doneness and texture. I’d like to point out my Le Cordon Bleu chefs were all great, yet this demonstration didn’t sit well with me. I thought to myself there has to be a better way to cook scallops. The Chef’s scallops were cooked using high heat a quick, which results in a cooked scallop with a little bit of color/browning of the scallop. There isn’t anything wrong with this technique and is actually a pretty normal way of cooking scallops. I personally use this technique at times. Back in school, I had a bigger picture in my head of what perfect scallops should be, all golden brown, like the ones you would see in a magazine or on television. I had to get to the bottom of this, so I set out down the hall to talk with some of my other Chef instructors. I headed straight to my favorite chef, Chef Porter. I explained my issue and she told me a few tips I’d like to share with you today.
Here is a photo from that very day at school from my experiment that followed. Scallops have a good amount of natural sugars in them. This is the key to perfect scallops. The cooking process needs medium to medium-high heat to allow the sugars in the scallops to caramelize. In the photo below, I took the experiment to an extreme level. I used super low heat. Given this isn’t a normal way one would cook scallops I had to try. The results were pretty cool, take a look below.
Low and slow heat gave the impression of a perfect scallop. Yet the texture wasn’t what I was looking for, the scallop had a rough texture on top. I’ll admit I was a little bit proud of myself after cooking this scallop due to that fact I didn’t get the answer I was looking for from my Chefs.
Chef Porter stated that cooking scallops on a lower heat helped with the browning. Thanks Chef!
The photo below is from a few years ago when I had company over for dinner. The scallops were cooked with the method I use every time now.
Allow me to share the technique of the Perfect Scallops every time
How to Cook Perfect Scallops
How to Cook Perfect Scallops
- Use a non-stick skillet
- Medium heat is key
- Add oil to pan, I like using peanut oil since it has a high smoke point and won’t burn
- Add enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan, up the side of the scallop by 1/10 minimum ( Think Frying )
- Use paper towels to dry the scallops as best as you can. Wet scallops equals NO color/or browning ( They will only steam )
- Scallops cook in about 5-7 minutes, remember the scallops will continue cooking after you remove them from the heat ( Serve them quickly )
- In the last 60-to-90 seconds add butter ( clarified works best ) this really browns the scallops for great presentation
Tip: The photo above still looks nice as an example of scallops that were not completely dry when they hit the pan. Remember to dry the scallops right before you add them to the pan. When they sit out waiting to be cooked they sweat a little releasing their natural waters.
I hope you enjoyed this article on cooking scallops. Don’t ever be discouraged, even some restaurant chefs cannot cook a scallop and make it look nice on the plate. I would love for you to post your own photos on our facebook page wall of your success in the kitchen with scallops or any other recipes on Butter-n-Thyme you chose to try.
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Panfried scallops with white wine garlic sauce is an easy and delicious recipe, perfect for a date night in. Serve with crusty bread to mop up the sauce or over creamy lemon risotto for a showstopping dinner.
How to cook panfried scallops
- How to cook frozen scallops: Thaw frozen scallops in the fridge overnight. Remove from packaging, drain any liquid then pat dry with paper towels. If you don’t dry the scallops they won’t sear and form that beautiful golden exterior.
- Seared scallops: Drizzle the scallops with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Heat a large, non-stick frying pan over high heat. Add the scallops, taking care not to overcrowd the pan. If you add too many scallops they will steam instead of fry.
- Cook the scallops for 2-3 minutes per side, depending on their size, until they are golden brown on both sides. Remove and set aside.
- Make the sauce: In the same pan, melt the butter then add the garlic. Cook for 30 seconds then pour in the white wine, lemon juice and parsley. Allow to come to a simmer and reduce for 3-5 minutes until the sauce has thickened slightly. Add the scallops back in the pan to warm.
- Serve with crusty bread or creamy risotto.
How long to cook scallops
Scallops are a quick-cooking protein, like all shellfish. Depending on their size, they should take no more than 2-3 minutes per side. Scallops are cooked when the flesh is milky white throughout and opaque. The internal temperature will read 54ºC/130ºF on a meat thermometer.
I love scallops. Sweet, tender, bite-size, crowd-pleasing. The only thing they’re missing? A bit of texture—a little crunch.
Don’t get me wrong, I love simple pan-seared scallops with a pan sauce and I always will. But recently I became fixated on crispy fried scallops. I had a vision of golden-crusted scallops tossed like giant croutons into a winter citrus salad. And when I have a new recipe vision, I have to see it through. So I headed to the Test Kitchen.
First, I tried tossing scallops in mayo and then cornmeal before searing them, but the crust was soggy and didn’t stay put. I tried straight cornmeal and then straight almond meal, but both coatings just burned. I tried a shallow fry with the classic three-step dredge of flour, egg, and breadcrumbs; the crust formed, but fell off each delicate scallop. I tried cornstarch, egg, and then cornmeal, and the crust was gummy against the scallop. I tried cornstarch, egg, and then breadcrumbs, and the same thing happened. Finally I tried a mix of equal parts finely ground cornmeal and cornstarch after an egg dredge and I liked the crunch of it and the corn fritter taste, but the crust wasn’t thick enough—it didn’t give me the feeling of biting through a crisp crust to the tender scallop below that I wanted. So I double-dredged the scallops in the same mixture of cornstarch and cornmeal. And that final step, it turned out, was the key.
To build a thick, crunchy crust, coat the scallops in the cornmeal mixture, then the eggs, and then back in the cornmeal mixture again before pan-frying.
Photo by Chelsea Kyle, Food Styling by Laura Rege
A double-dredge simply means that you toss your scallops (or chicken or whatever you’re coating) in the same coating mixture twice, with a dunk in beaten eggs between. This process builds up a thicker coating and helps the crust adhere to the scallop better. And with just two bowls, it’s less messy. (Bonus: using a mixture of cornmeal and cornstarch means these crispy scallops are naturally gluten-free.) The final finesse was to add a whisper of Old Bay to the cornmeal mixture, which grounds the flavors firmly in familiar American seafood territory.
But the satisfying crunch of that crust is not the only reason to dredge and shallow-fry a scallop. The crispy crust also protects the scallop so it stays moist and tender and evenly cooked. Plus, shallow-frying only takes a few short minutes. Be sure to hit your freshly fried scallops with some extra salt after they’re done.
No, these are not chicken nuggets.
Photo by Chelsea Kyle, Food Styling by Laura Rege
Once my scallops were perfected, I could put together the salad I had imagined with them. Since it’s citrus season, I made the dressing with fresh orange juice and zest. I tossed orange segments with bitter endive to balance them out, and added slices of avocado for creaminess and enough heft to make the salad a filling dinner. I scattered a bunch of basil leaves on top for extra freshness, topped the whole thing with the golden, crispy scallops, and all of a sudden it felt like summer vacation in my kitchen despite the fact that it was dark and snowing outside.