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Seared scallops with minimal fat

What are your tips and tricks for getting as good a sear as possible on scallops while using very little fat?

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  1. Use a small pan and brush the scallops with clarified butter....that's low fat to me.

    1. "Pam" or similar product sprayed in the pan ahead of the scallop would be my choice. But why try to cut fat when preparing scallops. They have a moderate amount of cholesterol all by themselves so a small amount of butter used in cooking them shouldn't represent a health hazard.

      2 Replies
      1. re: todao

        thats a good point. I do use actual oil, I just meant that i didn't want to have to use more than a light coating. I like the idea of brushing the butter onto it.

        1. re: hungryabbey

          just lightly coat the bottom of the pan and wipe it around/remove excess with a paper towel. The fat content will be negligible or equivalent to using cooking spray.

          1. re: ipsedixit

            A very hot, dry pan will work as long as you use "dry" scallops. If they don't jump when you put them in the pan, it's not hot enough.

            Note, if you sear them with oil the pan doesn't need to be (should be) this hot.

            1. re: egit

              Perfect. I do need a new cast iron pan anyways.

              1. re: hungryabbey

                why do you need a new one? the older, the better! :)

                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                  that's true! The one i have currently is just very small, so I rarely use it... I don't want to crowd the pan, it kind of defeats the purpose.

            2. re: goodhealthgourmet

              I know scallops are not very fishy, but I find cooking fish in unenamelled CI leaves a fish taint that I just cannot remove. Salmon especially.

            3. make sure you have dried the scallops very well, and do not use anything other than dry scallops.

              a smear of oil to prevent the scallops from sticking is sufficient. if the pan is hot enough, and the searing done properly, the scallops will take on a negligible amount of the fat.

              i don't recommend searing with pam. itr contains wax which may burn and stick.

              1 Reply
              1. re: hotoynoodle

                I do not use PAM, but i have an oil atomizer that I use in its place but I will try the cast iron pan method.

              2. Grill them. No added fat needed.

                1 Reply
                1. re: jameshig

                  how do they not stick to the grill?

                2. Searing anything, meat , fish, or otherwise, doesn't inherently add more fat. Whether you coat the pan with the barest film of oil or with a 1/4 inch of oil doesn't matter. The food doesn't just drink up oil (unless you're frying with a batter or coating, but that's a different story)

                  There are two main reasons oil is used: as a medium for heat transfer and to prevent sticking. The reason oil is needed to transfer heat is because the surface of any given food is not even. Because oil conducts heat well, and can get to those nooks and crannies on food, using it gives you more even heating and a better sear.

                  The only oil that is added to the end product is that which clings to the surface of the food after it has been cooked, which you can remove by setting the food on a paper towel.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: schoenfelderp

                    Thank you so much for that insight Schoenfelderp. That was very helpful.

                    1. re: hungryabbey

                      Not only is the food filled with nooks and crannies, so is the pan! Even though it looks flat and smooth, no substance is perfectly level, if you get close enough. The oil helps smooth everything out...

                  2. I too use a hot cast iron pan. I put a little bacon grease on a paper towel and rub in on the pan right before I put them in. That way I get that little bit of bacon flavor but they aren't drowning in the fat. Saving me the calories/ fat and I don't have to use a bunch of my sparse supply of stored bacon grease. Now I want scallops for dinner.

                    1. Also...make sure the scallops have been dried. Not watery.

                      1. A Swiss Diamond skillet and a tsp. of clarified butter works for me. I am fortunate to be able to get Day Boat or Diver Scallops that have not been treated with that nasty stuff that oozes out when you try to sear them. I just dust with Wondra and sear at med-high in the Swiss Diamond pan. Perfect every time. A couple of weeks ago i made Scallop Rolls a'la Lobster Rolls. The week before I had lucked into Stone Crab claws and made the traditional Mustard sauce from Joe's Stone Crab in Miami (the recipe is on Epi).

                        I had leftover sauce and seared the scallops cut them into chunks, put some shredded ice berg lettuce in the bottom of a split top roll, added the scallop chunks and topped with the mustard sauce. Divine! It will go in my permanent repertoire. The only change I made to the sauce recipe was that I omitted A-1 sauce, I don't use it, and added some freshly squeezed lemon juice it its place.

                        1. Grill or broil. Brush with a touch of butter if you want a crust.