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Apr 8, 2010 10:13 AM

Suggestions for Pan Searing Scallops?

I've picked up some nice sized scallops..
I was thinking to pan sear them, but not sure how to season..
I could put them on the grill.
My mother was saying to wrap them in bacon.

Looking for some simple but good suggestions for searing/grilling seasoning and maybe a pan sauce?

What's your fave? :)

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  1. No bacon needed, really (I can't believe I'm saying that haha).

    Just lightly dust with seasoned flour (a little s&p, maybe some paprika), pan-sear on medium-high on each side until a nice brown crust forms. You definitely don't want to overcook -- it's actually ok if they're not totally cooked inside.

    You can make a quick pan sauce, too, if you add a little butter and white wine in the end and let it emulsify. Mmmmmscallops. One of my favorite good eats.

    1. Season them any way you would do normally. Salt and pepper, or just kosher salt, is really all they need before searing.

      They are great on a grill, have it very hot (same as the sauté pan) and just a few minutes on each side.

      Hopefully you have dry packed day boat sea scallops. If they aren't, perhaps press them for a bit, just to get rid of extra moisture so you'll get a good sear and color on them. If you have bay scallops, you might consider a different method for cooking them, other than searing.

      If you do them wrapped in bacon, par-cook the bacon at least half way first before wrapping, so it can crisp up before the scallops are done, otherwise the scallops are cooked and the bacon will be still somewhat raw.

      After searing, (I use clarified butter) remove scallops from pan, add wine or liquor of choice (I like Pernod), a splash of heavy cream, herbs of choice, a little spritz of citrus, cold butter, and reduce for a few minutes. Adjust seasoning.

      This sauce suggestion is a base formula and can be altered to suit your taste; spicy, tangy, tart, whatever you like. Scallops are very flavor friendly and go with many things. Just don't overcook them.

      There are other threads here on this same subject, do a "relevance" search for sea scallops for more suggestions. Here's a link with a tutorial and photos, somewhat long but quite detailed:

      3 Replies
      1. re: bushwickgirl

        Good tips. In addition to not overcooking them, conversely, try not to undercook them. The last time I made pan-seared scallops, I was so paranoid about overcooking them, that they were a bit underdone. I mean, I like sushi, but not in butter-leek sauce.

        1. re: ChristinaMason

          Yes, sometimes you have to cut one open, if the poking-for-doneness technique doesn't work for you. I like them underdone, actually perfectly done, rather than over myself, with just some transluscence in the center.

          "I like sushi, but not in butter-leek sauce." Agreed.

          Hopefully we'll hear back from the OP about how they turned out.

          1. re: bushwickgirl

            I will as soon as I break them out and do something with them.. promise!

      2. Make sure to dry them off before searing, so they will caramelize on the out side. Only sear to medium. Very tasty! I season after cooking.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Thyme4Ma

          Agreed. It sounds like the OP will "break them out" - does that mean from the freezer, OP? If so, make sure they defrost in the fridge, but THEN you'll need several layers of paper towels to use. Put one set of towel layers on a plate, and put the scallops on top of the toweling. Put another layer on top. Rather than pressing down, just let them sit on the paper towels so they are well dried off, changing the paper towels as needed, and flipping them over to get both sides very dry before searing.

          Obviously, dry-packed scallops are the best, but I've found that using lots of paper towels and letting the scallops sit to allow the moisture to leach out as well as it can also works.

          And then make sure it's a HOT pan. Hotter than you'd expect. Preheat it for a longer period of time than you'd think you need to. That should give you a nice caramelization on the outside when you do the pan-sear.

          1. re: LindaWhit

            thank you for the tips! yes, they are frozen.. unfortunately there isn't any getting seafood dry packed or fresh here. :)

        2. I like to make a citrus reduction with 1 cup oj and i cup pom juice, a little sugar and balsamic.

          Reduce to a syrup.

          Place damp whole leaf spinach on each plate and micro for a minute. The spinach will go compleatly flat.

          Season with salt and pepper on medium high heat as lingua food suggests and they will be perfect. The pest ones are not injected with solution.

          Plate and, drizzle the reduction over the scallops and spinach.

          This is easy and very good.

          2 Replies
          1. re: normalheightsfoodie

            i wonder if lime juice and pom juice would make a good combo... not a huge orange fan, so i might have to give it a go.

            i love to sear scallops, deglaze the pan with a little citrus and serve over dry toasted crunchy beluga lentils drizzled with the reduction and parsley oil.

            or, sear to underdone but golden; deglaze pan with white wine, lemon juice, and stir in a little half and half; add in tarrgaon, then return scallops to pan to finish and toss with sauce. serve with grilled asparagus.

            1. re: Emme

              I am sure that would work well. POM also makes a cherry pom combo and you could just use that.

          2. I once saw Emeril Lagasse sprinkle sugar (lightly of course) on them to make sure they browned while searing. I have never tried it but I thought it was a good trick.

            I have since found out that it is a fairly common trick that takes advantage of the sugar browning quickly. It, apparently, works especially well on seafood that only gets sauteed for a very few minutes.

            1 Reply
            1. re: tonka11_99

              If you use the right temperature, the food will brown just fine. Why on earth would you want to add sugar? I know scallops are often paired with vanilla, but .... nah.