This recipe + tips make it super easy to make perfect pan-seared scallops with a buttery sauce that makes them taste almost identical to lobster bites!
What are scallops?
Scallops are in a class of shellfish called mollusks. They are bivalves (having two shells), like clams and oysters. The shells are held together by the adductor muscle, which is the edible part of the scallop.
Wet scallops vs dry scallops: what’s the difference?
Wet scallops have been treated with chemicals before freezing, and they release moisture when cooking that prevents a good sear. Since many frozen scallops are wet, it is helpful to know the following tip from Cook’s Illustrated test kitchens. Soak the wet scallops in a solution of 1-quart cold water, 1/4 cup lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons table salt for 30 minutes before proceeding with the recipe. Be sure to pat dry after soaking.
How are bay scallops different from sea scallops?
Size is the most obvious difference when distinguishing bay scallops from sea scallops. Sea scallops are much larger than bay scallops, which are sweeter, more tender, and typically used in seafood stews and casseroles. Bay scallops are only found on the east coast in bays and harbors.
What do scallops taste like?
Scallops have a white flesh that tastes similar to lobster but which has a firmer texture. The flavor tends to be buttery, delicate, and slightly sweet. They are not overly “fishy tasting” but do have a briny, saltwater “essence.” Scallops taste similar to lobster and crab, but they have a firmer bite.
Are scallops healthy?
A healthy and delicious power food, a single 3-ounce serving provides 20 grams of protein and a hefty dose of magnesium and potassium~and only 95 calories. You can enjoy scallops alongside roasted vegetables for a satisfying and delicious meal that is low on carbs and high in protein.
Are scallops easy to cook?
Scallops are quick and easy to cook. Once thawed, they can be cooked in less than 10 minutes from start to finish. They are easy to overcook, which makes them rubbery. It is best to watch them carefully and remove them from heat the minute they are done.
How do you thaw frozen scallops?
The optimal way to thaw frozen scallops is overnight in the fridge. But for spur of the moment scallop cooking, a cold water thaw works just fine and takes 15-20 minutes. Simply place scallops (sealed in a waterproof bag) into a bowl of cold water. Check the scallops every 10 minutes or so. When they become soft and easily separated if stuck together, they can be removed from the water. They will continue to thaw as they sit at room temperature before cooking.
Pat the scallops dry.
Before seasoning and searing, pat the scallops dry. This will help the scallops sear as they hit the skillet and hot oil. Wet scallops won’t get that good sear. All you need for drying scallops is a clean paper towel. Just pat the scallops on both sides until the moisture is removed.
What is the best pan for searing scallops?
A non-stick skillet is best for cooking scallops. The non-stick surface will ensure that the scallops don’t stick, which will make them easy to turn for searing both sides. If you need a great non-stick skillet, I recommend this Oxo 12″ non-stick skillet, which is the top pick by Cook’s Illustrated test kitchens. The 12″ size is optimal, as you can cook scallops without overcrowding them.
Do you use oil or butter to cook scallops?
After years of cooking scallops, I have come to the conclusion that a combination of EVOO and butter gives the richest flavor. I’ve made them using only EVOO and not been nearly as pleased. The melted butter adds richness and flavor. I use ghee also when I have it on hand. Ghee is clarified butter, and it is what you typically use to dip pieces of lobster into for flavor. I think that scallops dipped into melted ghee taste VERY similar to lobster!!!
Real lemon juice is best.
A squeeze of fresh lemon juice turns ordinary pan drippings into a wonderfully rich and yummy lemon butter sauce. Lemon and butter truly make the scallops mimic lobster~at far less expense. Fresh lemon slices and lemon juice make scallops~and any seafood~complete. Although bottled lemon juice works for some recipes, fresh is always best for seafood dishes.
Give these gems a try if you are a scallop fan, and let me hear how they turn out! They really are super easy to make and SO delicious. As always, thanks so much for stopping by. Be blessed, and stay savvy!!!
- 12 sea scallops
- 2 TB real butter (or ghee)
- 2 TB extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- kosher salt, freshly ground pepper, garlic salt (to taste)
- 1 lemon, juiced
- Thaw scallops if frozen; pat scallops with paper towel until dry.
- Sprinkle scallops with seasonings.
- Heat oil and butter in a non-stick skillet over medium-high until butter is melted and oil begins to sizzle.
- Add scallops; cook 2-3 minutes on the first side to get golden sear.
- Turn scallops. Baste with butter sauce for another minute or two until scallops get slightly golden (probably one no more than two minutes)
- Remove scallops from heat; transfer to a serving dish.
- Drizzle pan drippings over scallops.
- Add lemon juice to pan drippings; stir over heat for about 30 seconds.
- Pour lemon butter drippings over scallops.
- Serve scallops over angel hair pasta, spaghetti squash, or with roasted vegetables.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 158Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 31mgSodium: 551mgCarbohydrates: 3gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 8g