The Best Easy Seared Scallops Recipe!
Scallops are one of the easiest things in the world to cook—but they’re even easier to overcook! Use scallop prep as an opportunity to practice being present while cooking, and you will have yourself a delicious meal in under five minutes.
3-6 dry-packed scallops*, depending on size
1 tablespoon untoasted sesame oil
Side of greens: fresh with your favorite homemade dressing, or lightly cooked
Rinse and dry scallops thoroughly
Heat the oil in the pan on medium-high until it produces the tiniest bit of smoke
Sprinkle scallops with sea salt
When the pan is hot enough, place the scallops in it, flat-side down
Be strong! Don’t touch them for two minutes if you want that famous caramel crust :)
After two minutes, use a spatula to gently lift the edge of one of the scallops and peek underneath. If it’s caramel brown, flip them all over and cook for another minute. If it’s not yet, wait 30 more seconds and look again. Repeat as necessary.
Remove scallops from heat while they still have a slightly translucent center—they will continue to cook off the pan
Serve right away, caramel crust facing up, with your side of greens
*Please buy “dry-packed” scallops! They are slightly pink or off-white, smell like the sea, and contain no chemical additives. “Wet-packed” (or “soaked”) scallops are bathed in sodium tripolyphosphate, a neurotoxin used in soaps and cleaning supplies (yuck). In scallops, it acts as a whitening preservative and soaks up water, increasing scallop weight by up to 30 percent—costing you more money for less scallop! Also, because so much liquid is released during cooking, “wet” scallops steam, rather than sear to a nice brown crust. And, they can carry a light soapy flavor, eek! So please, friends: stay dry.
Scallops come in two general sizes: sea scallops are larger, while bay scallops are smaller. If you’re going for a standard 5-7 ounce serving per person, you’ll probably want about three sea scallops or about six bay scallops.
I avoid farm-raised scallops from farms in China, Chile, and Peru. The North Atlantic states, Alaska, and Canada tend to use more sustainable and healthier practices for both fishing and farming. Look for scallops (wild-fished or farmed) from these regions at your local farmers market or a supermarket that knows its stuff.
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