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Grocery Store Sea Scallops

For a Gourmet Club diner last night I was assigned a recipe for sea scallops on a bed of wilted spinach. Other flavors were a cream sauce on top of it all with Calvados, unfiltered cider, shallots and garlic and of course heavy cream.

This was a dinner for 10 and I really did not feel like breaking the bank at the seafood shop for diver scallops at about $29.99/lb. My grocer had a special on the sea scallops with their affinity card for $9.99/lb. That is what I bought on Friday. When I got them home I put them in a colander to defrost and drain. Then put them in the colander over a bowl in the refrigerator to continue to drain until last night. I had to cook them at the hosts house and I thought I had indicated to my husband to bring along my 14" cast iron skillet but after arriving saw that the skillet I indicated was the 10" so I needed to use 2 skillets. My host pulled out a large stainless steel All-Clad skillet. I put both skillets on at the same temperature and divided the scallops which had just been salted and peppered into the skillets that had been coated with vegetable oil. The scallops that were in the cast iron skillet browned and crusted beautifully. The scallops in the stainless steel paled (ha ha) in comparison. We did a quick switch of skillets half way through so all were nicely browned.

Frankly I was surprised. I was almost sure you could not get those treated scallops to brown. But they did and the flavor was delicious. This does not mean that I won't buy the more expensive diver/day boat scallops, but it is sure nice to find that grocery store scallops can be browned and delicious if you have enough time to devote to draining and drying and have a good cast iron skillet.

Unfortunately we were too busy cooking to get a photo this time.

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  1. Don't even have a seafood market in the area that sells diver scallops here and I live in Fla. I never have a problem getting scallops to brown. I just rinse and drain then wrap in paper towels and store in the fridge until ready to use. I often give them a very light coat of Wondra to help dry the surface and either saute in butter or butter/oil mixture. The butter helps them get good color. I've done them in SS and CI pans and they brown either way.

    1. Browning these scallops is not a problem for me either. I keep the drained liquid, reduce it and use it in the sauce. Butter really helps with the browning for me as well.

      1. Glad things turned out well. But at least where I live, there are a couple of places that sell excellent scallops at way under $30 a pound. Certainly not all scallops below that price are chemically treated.

        Maybe jit's ust me, but I've been skeptical about "dayboat" scallops since reading about all the "wild" salmon that's actually farm-raised.

        5 Replies
        1. re: mpalmer6c

          For those who aren't familiar, in my area of New England, I can buy "dry" scallops. Sometimes that's what the sign says. Basically, they haven't been treated with any chemicals/preservatives. You can definitely taste the difference. Last week I bought scallops at $8.99/lb at the local supermarket that were the sweetest, tastiest we've ever had. I've noticed at family style restaurants that scallops sometimes have an off, metallic taste to them. I assume that they have used processed scallops. The scallops I bought were also previsously frozen but tasted fresh.

          1. re: dfrostnh

            i too have bought the frozen sea scallops that have not been chemically treated, they have been fantastic and sweet! sear up nicely. (i'm not crazy about stainless skillets for that, either...)

            (safeway, btw, dc-area folks -- look for the seafood sales, buy a lot and have an e-scallop-ganza)

            1. re: dfrostnh

              Gosh, I once bouth some scallops on sale that had an awful metallic taste. It was so bad that I returned them. Thought maybe I had a bad batch but with your experience I'm guessing it's how the treat them.

              1. re: dfrostnh

                I live in NY and find price is not the determinant of whether the scallops are "dry" or "wet". It is a law that the scallops should be labeled, but most fishmongers don't know what I'm talking about. I almost always buy "dry" scallops (usually $15.00/lb) but last week we picked up some fresh, but wet scallops at the supermarket and they were fine.

                1. re: pobo

                  I can buy dry scallops in Des Moines for 24.99 lb. They are good.
                  Last week I wanted some Scallops on a whim, and just bought them at the supermarket. 8.99 lb.
                  Sauteed in butter and garlic, and damn they were good. Good enough I'm not sure if I will spend the 24.99 again. I just wondr if they'll be consistent.

            2. I lightly dust my large scallops with confectioner's sugar to facilitate the browning in a short period of time. Diver scallops are not available locally here but with some draining
              I have found the supermarket variety quite good.

              1 Reply
              1. re: LRunkle

                no affect on flavor? i'm presuming so, otherwise you would not have posted. resassure me, please.