HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


My 1st ginormous scallops - how long to sear?

We are somewhat creatures of habit in my house and every Saturday night is seared tuna and scallops. I usually use U10-16 scallops which tend to be on the smaller side of that range (more U16 than U10). I ran into the grocery store this morning to grab an apple and spotted the most amazing-looking scallops which I could not resist. They are U6-8. I love simple scallops, perfectly medium-rare and plan to sear on a hot cast iron pan-quick and simple and the entire meal usually takes less than 3 minutes to cook. As a fan of medium-rare and not rare scallops, any ideas how long to sear these huge pieces of seafood gloriousness? 3 minutes on each side too long?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Since they are larger, you do not want to use the highest flame...as the sear will make the delicate flesh tougher. Watch the sides.....as they become opaque up the sides....flip when it reachs halfway up and note the time. for the following side....less 15-30 seconds.

    1. I think mine took 3 minutes then 2.

      1. I'd use a rip roaring hot cast iron pan, 2-3 min each side.

        1. When they are that big it's easier to get a good crust on one side before flipping and still have them rare to med/rare in the middle.

          3 Replies
            1. re: fldhkybnva

              I do. Same with fish. Get a good crust on one side the finish on the other. Serve crust side up

              1. re: scubadoo97

                Ditto. I usually do half as long on the second side - in this case, I'd try maybe 4 mins on the first side and 2 on the second, but even that might be too long if your pan is really ripping.

          1. To be on the safe side, do a test run with 1. I do 1 minute, 15 seconds per side with huge scallops, but I tend toward the less-done range. If you have excellent, super-fresh scallops, they don't really need to be cooked at all.

            4 Replies
            1. re: pikawicca

              It also depends on the temp they are and how hot the pan is, of course.

              1. re: pikawicca

                OP said they didn't like rare. More toward med/rare to med

                At 30 sec total on a very large scallop it's going to be rare. Not that there is anything wrong with that. Just not what the OP asked

                1. re: scubadoo97

                  Don't know where you got 30 seconds, I certainly did not recommend this.

                  1. re: pikawicca

                    Sorry didn't see the 1 min. My bad and sorry for the rap! Didn't catch the second 1 in your post. I can't frikin read. But then I also like them rare.

              2. Oh wow, I am at the extremes of very angry!!! The scallops I always buy from the same store every week sear like true champs (brown up and never exude any water) and so I've never really had to deal with the issue of the hunt for dry scallops. Well, I now know that I have been buying dry scallops if this is what a wet scallop is like. Perhaps I have learned a lesson in impulse purchases at markets you are less familiar with. Well I spent a lovely $25 on ginormous scallops which taste so horribly of metal and ammonia that as much as I tried to stomach them, I could not bear to eat....:(

                9 Replies
                1. re: fldhkybnva

                  oh that's horrible. You will complain to the market, I hope.

                  1. re: magiesmom

                    Awful, just awful. I put the first bite into my mouth excited for that fresh taste of the ocean and that is not what I my tastebuds got slammed in the face with. Good thing, I had great quality tuna to fill my hunger. Next week, I will be returning to Wegman's for scallops. I did a quick Google search and I guess I never did inquire with them about wet vs dry as they only sell dry and I have always been very pleased with their scallops.

                    1. re: fldhkybnva

                      I am sorry but hope you do complain to the market. That said, I'm surprised you didn't smell the difference raw.

                      1. re: magiesmom

                        In fact, I think I did but it was a hint of an odd smell until I tasted them and then put my nose a wee bit closer and then it was overwhelming. I imagine this is also why they appeared so "ginormous" (of course before cooking, because they shrunk at least 50%)? Oh also, I couldn't get the buggers to stand up on edge to save my life. While "searing," I had to hold the biggest scallop up with a fingertip so that it wouldn't keep toppling over. I have had U10 scallops which weren't much smaller and stood up proudly at attention. I guess I should listen to the thoughts that enter my head more often, as usual if I had paid attention I might have noticed something seemed odd.

                        1. re: fldhkybnva

                          Sorry you encountered such adulterated scallops that had great visual appeal but were inedible. We have access to 'day boat' scallops where the catch is delivered within six to eight hours of their saling so the scallops are impeccably fresh and there is no need to plump them with water, salts or store them in a preservative solution.

                          There is a simple test placing a scallop on a paper towel and watching how much liquid is extracted in a minute. If the towel wet spot is larger than the diameter of the scallop by more than a 'smidgen' it was probably adulterated.....but when you know your source, the chance of being hoodwinked is really quite remote.

                          By the way when we have access to the larger size beauties, U-8, typical sear in hot pan with butter for us is just over 2 minutes while spooning the browning butter onto the tops. Flipped over for less than 2 minutes and serrved with a squeeze of lemon as they are plated is our perfection.

                          Suggest you complain to your vendor or find a new one with a reliable source of dry, day boat scallops

                          1. re: ThanksVille

                            As annoyed as I am, is this something the customer has a right to complain about (aside from the fact that you can complain about what you want)? They didn't label them as dry and sell a different product, just sold an inferior product so not sure they would have anything useful to respond to my complaint. Although thinking about the bloated price I just paid for many ounces of water makes my wallet very angry.

                            1. re: fldhkybnva

                              I love scallops, among my favorite foods in the world. But I never buy them from a supermarket. (Although I make an exception for Trader Joe's, if I can get them the day they come in.) To be honest, I always make the assumption that scallops are "wet" unless told otherwise, and even then I don't always believe it. Even with the fish markets that sell dry scallops, unless they came in that day, I pass on them. I feel bad for you...those giant scallops are my favorite, but I haven't seen them in years.

                              1. re: EricMM

                                huh, i have never seen fresh fish of any kind at any trader joe's.

                                what a major bummer for the op.

                              2. re: fldhkybnva

                                yes, They should get the feedback that you feel the product was inferior for the price and you found it inedible. Will they do anything, probably not. But why should they not at least have to hear you give your opinion.

                  2. Fresh scallops reacquired at Whole Foods prefaced with "are these dry scallops" to which he responded with a giant can on the counter and "our scallops are always dry, come in a can and if you ever want to know in another store don't ask dry vs wet, ask if they come in a can?" Surf and turf Sunday I am sure will be a delight.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: fldhkybnva

                      day-boat scallops most certainly do not come in a can. not around here anyway.

                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                        Not day boat, dry. I don't think they are always one and the same - all day boat are dry, but not all dry are day boat.

                        1. re: fldhkybnva

                          and not all dry are canned.

                          i understand that it's like the "all cognac is brandy, but not all brandy is cognac" equation, but i think if i asked my fishmonger for canned scallops, i'd get a funny look, lol.. totes depends on your geographic spot, i guess.

                    2. What a difference 24 hours makes! I am comfortably relaxing on the couch status-post a delicious meal of seared grass fed strip steak and a healthy dose of dry scallops which tasted as they should and usually do - slightly briney, sweet with a hint of ocean

                      1 Reply