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How to tell when scallops are done?

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I've decided to make scallops gratin for a dinner party tonight. According to the recipe I chose (Ina Garten's), the scallops will be done at 425 after 10 - 12 minutes. The recipe calls for bay scallops, but when she made the recipe on her show she used sea scallops cut small to resemble bays. Anyway . . .

The scallops are crusted with a panko butter. I am getting very nervous about overcooking them, because I don't know how to tell when they are done if they are covered in crust. There is a pregnant woman coming to dinner, so they need to be fully cooked. I just don't want tough.

Can you please help?

Perhaps I should have chosen chicken!

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  1. set aside a couple unbreaded as test dummies? i go by visual too and checking by touch wouldn't work for me either.

    2 Replies
    1. re: appycamper

      That's a great idea . . . thanks! I'll just put a few at the end of the gratin dish without topping. Now I know this makes me sound like a real seafood novice (I am), but how do you know when they are done visually? When they crack?

      1. re: denverkate

        if they crack, they've gone too far. i like the big sea scallops, so i usually dust the tops and bottoms in rice flour (or wrap in prosciutto) and saute in a bit of butter.

        visually what works for me (not to be argumentative, bushwickgirl ;-)) is to notice the raw scallop is slightly grayer than a cooked one and has a transluscent quality to it. as the protein sets the color whitens and the transluscence goes away. i watch the sides of the scallops as they cook and when the white meets in the middle i give it a few more seconds and call it done.

    2. I think you've picked a good recipe to work from. As Ina says, after 10-12 minutes, the scallops will be barely done, usually that means "rare." This is the best way to eat them. I don't know if you consider that fully cooked for your pregnant guest; if not, another minute or two would be ok but I recommend not any longer than that. Scallops go from good to bad in a wink of an eye. Of course, this all depends on your oven-Ina states that the scallops should be golden and sizzling when they're done. Make sure to preheat well. You're cooking them in individual ramekins, right?
      If you're really worried, just test one with a fork or your finger after 10 minutes or so, the scallops should feel tender to the touch.
      Good bread is an important go-with, as there will be nice juices to mop up.
      Edit: No, they don't crack. You really have to touch them to tell if they're done. Eyeballing it doesn't work well with scallops.

      1. So long as they're fresh, you can't really undercook scallops. You could eat them raw if you wanted to... (although I don't reccomend it - I simply mean that a fresh scallop slightly undercooked it pretty harmless)

        My reccomendation is to just grill it a couple of minutes each side on a high heat... You can definitely overcook a scallop, so don't do the old "I'll just cook it a couple more minutes to be on the safe side..." Uh-uh. Bad idea.

        2 Replies
        1. re: NickMontreal

          i think there's nothing more disappointing than an overcooked scallop (okay maybe a few things). and i love raw scallops with a touch of lemon. op was concerned with getting them completely done since one of her guests is pregnant and at risk from undercooked seafood. ups the ante for getting them just right.

          1. re: appycamper

            Whoops - skipped right past the pregnant lady bit. Perhaps grilling isn't the way to go then as it will probably leave a slightly raw centre. I've heard scallops can be baked to great effect, and it would make for a more evenly cooked scallop. Perhaps if the OP did that instead of gratineeing them under the broiler it would ensure that the scallops were mother-to-be friendly...

        2. OP-is your pregnant guest aware that you are serving shellfish (ie: essentially filter-feeders)? If she's ok with it, then I'm afraid that my advise would be to err on the side of caution and cook them fully. I'd rather eat scallops that may be a bit tough, but you know, the recipe has lots and lots of flavor. I'm sure you'll all enjoy it and have peace of mind.
          Best!