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Jul 25, 2008 07:00 AM

Bay Scallop Help!

I just picked up some fresh bay scallops at the fish store. In the past, I've had problems with them releasing tons of liquid and getting tough. Please tell me how to cook these for dinner tonight. Thank you!

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  1. Unless they are clearly labeled otherwise, they likely have water added, so they will release that water when cooking. To keep them from getting tough, just cook them very briefly. In fact, many people prefer them still basically raw in the center. Just season them with salt and pepper, toss them in a very hot pan, and saute them for about 30 seconds. Top them with a squeeze of lemon juice and really, that's all you'll need. You may be tempted to dredge them in flour or breadcrumbs, but when they release the water, that'll get gluey.

    3 Replies
    1. re: katecm

      Thank you...I'll do just as you suggested.

      1. re: DaisyM

        before you cook them rest them on some sheets of paper towel and thoroughly dry them. If working with a good fresh scallop this should take care of any problems with moisture. IMO I'd pass on anything thats water/salt added. Otherwise kate's suggestion would work great.. just make sure the pan is really hot so you get a nice carmelization on the scallop

        1. re: Jstern35

          we got a table top sterno powered grill recently for a gift.the top is rounded to let drippings down the side.we take the scallops and slice them about 1/4" or so thick and toss them on there quickly on each side.nice.

    2. With scallops, picking the right ones matters much more than how you prepare them. If the scallops (whether they're fresh or frozen) are treated with phosphates, they'll cook up watery no matter how you try. The phosphate treatment makes the scallops absorb water, so they appear plumper (and heavier) but the water is released when you cook them.

      Untreated scallops are often labeled as "dry" or "diver" scallops.

      1. Thank you for sharing that information. I had no idea!

        1. As well, if they are in the case sitting in a pool of milky-looking water, that means they HAVE been treated with phosphates, and not only will be watery, but also will have a flavor similar to soap. Nothing gets rid of that taste.

          Get your pan very hot before cooking scallops, and add the fat after the pan is well heated, so you won't end up with too much. When the pan is good and hot, you will quickly achieve a nice sear. For a quick sauce, remove the cooked scallops from the pan and quickly deglaze with a few tablespoons of dry Vermouth. Pour sauce over the scallops on the serving plate.

          Don't over cook scallops, as they then resemble pencil erasers in both looks and texture.

          1. I had the same issue and found some answers here if you are still interested.