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Ultra-fresh scallops...sear, or specialize?

I bit the hook on a pound of the scallops that will be a special order next week, for an additional $23 on top of the CSF membership. I do not grill and do not want ceviche or other raw dishes.

At first I was looking for a special recipe but upon reflection, think these fresh-caught scallops will be best just seared in a cast iron pan, in either butter or bacon grease (maybe both). Opinions or other suggestions?

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  1. my favorite prep is to season with s&p anf sear in butter, then set aside lightly covered. in the same pan with more butter saute thinly sliced leeks, deglaze with white vermouth or wine and a little cream until meltingly soft. you can add a squeeze of lemon or not. serve the scallops in a pool of the sauce.

    1. Yep, I sear in a cast iron pan. Or on a cast iron grille pan.

      Keep an eye on them and do not overcook.

      If going hot I use combo of butter and veggie oil to keep smoke point high.

      Make sure everything else is ready to go for dinner before you toss the scallops on. <thumbsup>
      And if unbrined, season them liberally.

      1. Love them seared, but butter-poached can be heavenly.

        1. Maybe just a sage butter with a bit of salt and small amount fresh green pepper. You can clarify the butter to prevent scorching. I like to infuse the sage in the butter over lower heat, remove the leaves, and then crank it up to really carmelize the scallops (w/o overcooking the babies). I'm jealous. I've been passing on scallops lately owing to price.

          1 Reply
          1. re: rudeboy

            I hear you! A lobster dinner is the typical August birthday splurchase but when the scallopportunity arose, I switched plans.

          2. Steamed fresh scallops are quite nice,

            - fresh scallops in half shells (shells optional for presentation only)
            - ginger - fine julienne
            - chillies - fine julienne
            - scallions/green onion - julienne, the pale green or white part only
            - cilantro
            - fried garlic in oil - finely chopped garlic slow fried in peanut oil to get a toasted garlic infused oil
            - soy sauce - the chinese one not the japanese one
            - msg - optional
            - sugar
            - fish sauce
            - lime zest
            - lime juice
            - chinese cooking wine, white wine, or sake is suitable too

            Make sauce
            - mix soy sauce, fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, msg and reserve 10%
            - add wine, lime zest to the sauce

            Cooking scallops
            - Dip scallops into reserved sauce mix
            - Place scallops on half shell/ plate lined with julienne ginger
            - Steam scallops in a steamer or cook in oven with foil wrapped baking sheet (about 2-3 minutes)

            - While waiting for the scallops to be cooked, bring the sauce with wine to boil

            - To serve, top scallops with scallions,cilantro,julienne chillies and dress it with the heated sauce and fried garlic oil

            1. gg, i believe we are in the same neck of the woods and with local beauties like these, i do as little as possible. while still refrigerator cold, pat very, very dry, season with salt, sear with ghee, 1-2 mins per side, depending on size. let rest. finish with a dash of togarashi pepper and a splash of yuzu or other citrus.

              happy birthday!

              1. The Happiest of Birthday Wishes to you GG.
                I can't add anything to what the others have advised, any and all are lovely preparations for those scallops. We passed on them simply we have them regularly and wanted to just take the fish during this season. We did take them last season and simply cooked them as ChristinaMason and several others mentioned. Either way you'll have a splendid Birthday dinner.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Gio

                  B/c scallops have such a delicate flavor, especially when they are really fresh I'd advise against using basically anything that will mask the scallop flavor. That even includes using butter, especially table butter during the cooking.
                  We are lucky to get fresh scallops around these parts.
                  I take a SS pan> add half an inch of lightly salted water>bring just to the simmer>add the scallops>allow them to slow poach till barely cooked through. Turning once halfway through the cooking process. The time needed is always less than one would think. Less than a minute on each side even for large scallops. Remove from poaching liquid. Into warm oven while I quickly make a 'Sauce Velout'e' using the poaching liquid and adding a little whole milk to get the right consistency. Season.
                  A couple of Ts of the sauce on a hot plate with the poached scallops set on top.
                  To keep the palette fresh a nice glass of cool, not cold Pino Gris.
                  Happy Birthday.

                2. We had some huge fresh sea scallops recently in Truro and a simple sear in a heavy medium hot skillet with a small amount of oil was all it took. Sear on each side for 2-3 minutes and take them out. Then add butter, wine, shallots, herbs, broth and whatever for a quick pan sauce.

                  1. Sear them in a very hot pan with a minimal amount of neutral flavored vegetable oil with a high smoking point. If they are true "dry" scallops they will caramelize nicely. You can flip them and cook briefly on the other side but I don't find that necessary unless you like them fully cooked through(opaque). If you want a pan sauce deglaze with white wine, lemon juice, shallot, parsley, whole butter. As someone else mentioned, you don't want to interfere with the scallop's subtle taste. To me, one of the best tastes in the world!

                    1. Joining the bandwagon and agreeing, these should be patted as dry as possible, season simply with salt and pepper and seared on high heat in a high temp fat like butter mixed with oil (grapeseed or peanut are my preferences) and then i like to squeeze lemon on top OR make a little sauce of butter, lemon and a tiny bit of chili oil (killer in the peanut oil prep).

                      Go-to scallops, right there!

                      1. I'd slice thinly and eat sashimi style.

                        1. I have always be a "sear only" person for scallops but as we have been experimenting with sous vide, I have found that our scallops have never been better.

                          I would sous vide them with a pinch of salt and a pat of unsalted butter. I occasionally add a pinch of fresh lemon zest if I have a lemon handy. 130F for 45 mins.

                          Drain (if you want to make a quick pan sauce, drain into a skillet), and then sear in a very hot pan for 90 seconds per side. They will be crispy on the outside, mildly flavored with butter and rare in the middle.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: ldkelley

                            ^^^THIS^^^ - sous vide scallops are heavenly. I would suggest finishing them with a torch rather than a hot pan but anyway you do them sous vide really does make scallops a delicious creamy delight that is unmatched by regular pan cooking.

                            1. re: RetiredChef

                              Curious about the details and "finishing them with a torch" part (although I won't be getting my Anova circulator for another couple of months). Do you sous vide them in anything? Like a butter sauce? Or just plain. And can you just torch them as they are, right after cooking? They'll caramelize?

                              1. re: JoanN

                                If you thoroughly pat them dry you can easily caramelize them with a torch.

                          2. As much as I love pan sauces, my preference is to bring the scallops directly to a warm plate and serve. Maybe it is just my kitchen skills, but I don't like to lose the even small amt of time to make the pan sauce because scallops seem to lose their heat as fast as crab legs. One could keep them warm, but their delicacy could be compromised. I guess if you can whip out a pan sauce in two minutes or less, it would be okay.

                            Also, it is fun to have them as a heavy app - just me and my scallops and Puffin3's Pinot Gris, and then move onto a light primi of seasonal vegetables pre-prepared and then a secondi of lamb cooked at that time w/pan sauce (10 min with mise en place). Then a nice sorbet. Then a little too much port.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: rudeboy

                              Agreed, they don't need a pan sauce. Most scallops will give off a little liquid in the pan. I might swirl a little whole butter and some fresh parsley and drizzle this over them. When you have perfection, don't F*#k with it.

                              1. re: rudeboy

                                They won't arrive until the end of this week but I have decided just to sear in ghee in a cast iron skillet, deglazing with minced shallots.

                                1. re: greygarious

                                  great - consider the sage, as it is sublime (and it adds but does not cover the scallops). Shallots would take it up a notch, too. I'm excited. Maybe a little too excited because I love good scallops.

                                  1. re: greygarious

                                    That's the best way to do it, ghee and scallops are the perfect match.

                                    How are you "deglazing," with shallots? Or do you just mean you're throwing in some minched shallots, then deglazing with something else, wine perhaps?

                                    1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                                      I mean that the moisture from the shallots will deglaze the fond. I prefer not to use anything acidic in my cast iron skillet so I'll either squeeze some lemon over the plated scallops, or transfer the cooked shallots to a different pan and reduce with white wine.

                                      1. re: greygarious

                                        Ahh, I forgot you were using cast iron. Hadn't really considered the huge moisture content of shallots either.