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Nov 16, 2009 11:44 PM

How to keep scallops from 'weeping?'

I buy frozen sea scallops at Costco and defrost and dry them well, but they always weep after being pan seared. I understand many scallops are injected w/a sodium mixture to plump. Can anyone suggest either a way to prepare them so they won't weep or a better retail source? Thanks so much.

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  1. You could purchase dry scallops. They're a little more expensive, but it resolves the weeping problem.

    1. living in boston, i have never purchased frozen scallops. unless the scallops are "dry", which i doubt would ever be frozen, i don't think you can avoid the weeping.

      have you tried searing in a very hot pan? a quick method might reduce the problem at least. just a minute or two on each side.

      1. The availability of fresh - dry or otherwise - scallops in rural Ontario is laughable. So I buy frozen. Here's what I do to avoid this weeping. Defrost the scallops on a tray lined with several layers of paper towel and covered with several layers of paper towel. Place a weight on top - something like another tray with some cans on it. This will help press out the extra water and your scallops will turn out much better. Give the scallops plenty of time to defrost and drain and pat any surface moisture off before searing.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Nyleve

          Great idea about weighing down the scallops! In addition to searing over really high heat, try letting the drained, uncooked scallops sit at room temperature for however long you are comfortable with - I'd go for 20-30 minutes for marshmallow-sized scallops. Just like with beef, you get a better sear if the food is not cold when it hits the pan. Also, the longer the scallops cook, the chewier they are. Same deal for squid.

          1. re: Nyleve

            Nyleve, I just made scallops using your 'weight them down' method and they came out perfectly - zero weeping. I thought I'd dried them well between paper towels, but then I put a cast iron pan on top of the paper towels/scallops for 10 mins and the paper towels top and bottom were soaked. I seared them in the cast iron pan and they were absolutely perfect. Thanks so much for this great solution.

            1. re: mocro

              Terrific! Thanks for letting me know.

          2. There's always going to be some water in scallops, but Costco claims none of the seafood they carry has Sodium Tripoly Phosphate(STP) to make them retain more water.

            4 Replies
            1. re: monku

              Thanks for everyone's suggestions. I'd never heard of dry scallops before I started researching this issue. I just looked at the Costco bag and it says "all natural" and the ingredients simply say "sea scallops." I'll try the tray method which sounds brilliant.

              I was prompted to write my Chowies for advice as last night at dinner my daughter used her napkin to raise the top of her plate so the juice would drip down and my husband built a "dam" out of asparagus. Everyone's a comedian in this house.

              1. re: monku

                All the scallops that I've seen at costco were "wet" scallops and not "dry" scallops. I'm not sure where you're at Monku, but in the SF Bay Area, they're wet...

                1. re: hankstramm

                  My point was that Costco doesn't allow the use of Sodium Tripoly Phosphate(STP) in their scallops. I'm in Los Angeles and they're "wet" scallops too.


                  1. re: monku

                    STP allows maximum absorption, but that doesn't mean they're not soaked at all.

              2. Julia Child addresses this problem with wet scallops in The Way to Cook. If you have her book or can find it at your library, see page 114. Basically, she says to saute the scallops in batches in a dry pan just until the liquid runs out, then drain the pan, dry off the scallops and continue with the recipe, adjusting the time to account for the time the scallops have already cooked.

                4 Replies
                1. re: cheesemaestro

                  I do have that book. Thanks so much.

                  1. re: mocro

                    I was at Costco on Friday and they had the freestanding seafood booth up w/bags of frozen scallops @ 2 lbs for $8.99 per pound - also loose scallops for slightly more $. I asked the very nice seafood person if they were "dry" scallops and he said yes. Will report in when I've cooked to see if there's any difference between these and the already packaged Kirkland sea scallops in the freezer section.

                    1. re: mocro

                      dry scallops for $4.50 per pound? not even off the boat are they that cheap. i'm dubious at best. but frozen scallops would weep anyway, how could you know fer sure?