Pan Seared Scallops

Let’s get right into it today.  This is a little dish I made for my wife who just loves seared scallops.  In this case, it was a bit of a belated Valentine’s dinner.

One of the keys to the success of this dish is going to be the scallops themselves.  You have to be very picky when selecting quality scallops because when they are just not right it can ruin your hard work

Take the time to find a good place to purchase your scallops from.   A good seafood store that is busy shows that the product moves fast and that is a key to great seafood.  A slow establishment gives me pause.  In my case I found my local Wegman’s and Fresh Fields are great sources that move a lot of product.

You can buy either fresh or frozen, because 90% of the time what you are buying form the counter is in fact thawed product anyhow.  I get lucky at my counter and they actually use the best sea scallops you can find.  Diver dry packed scallops.  What makes them so special?  Well they are actually hand picked by divers, then the flesh is removed and packed dry, not is some watery liquid.  This is just not a flavor enhancement in any way.

If you use frozen, and I have on occasion, make sure you buy IQF (Individually Quick Frozen) This is similar in concept to the above in that each one is frozen right as it is picked.  A side benefit is only thawing how many you need.  When you that, do so in the refrigerator over night.  If that is not possible, the only method to speed things up is under cool water (72 degrees or less) and wrapped in plastic zip top bags so water does not touch the flesh.  I double bag mine just to be sure.  The scallops should remain under water at all times with the water running into the container at all times.  This can thaw them in quick order, about 15-30 minutes.

Last is check the quality.  The best seafood should smell “like the sea”, but not necessarily like New Jersey (sorry Snookie)  They should have a soft smell, and not have the Iodine scent, which is a sure sign of degrading.  Next the flesh should be firm, and should bounce back when you press on it.  It should never be mushy.  Most scallops will have the muscle on the side of them.  This is a good sign, we know its a true scallop.  These should also be removed before cooking, they bring nothing to the party (like my friend Sam).

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You will notice I do not use a non-stick pan for this recipe, or for anything that I want a nice sear or crust on, or when I want to make a sauce in the pan.  There is a very specific reason for this.  Non-Stick pans by their nature do not really allow meats to sear.  The other half is that what is left in the pan, the fond as the French call it, is where lots of flavor awaits to be brought out in a sauce, like in this instance.  The pan I am using is a simple Aluminium pan.  I would use Anodized Aluminium, but frankly the pictures would not be as clear.

Pan Seared Scallops over Field Greens with Balsamic Glaze
Serves 2

1/2 pound
2 tablespoons
As Needed
1/2 teaspoon
2 tablespoons
2 ounces
4 sprigs
1 ounce
2 ounces
Diver Sea Scallops – Dry Pack
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper
Balsamic Vinager
Field Greens / Spring Mix
Fresh Dill
Heirloom Tomatoes
Squash and Carrots, Julienne
Balsamic Vinaigrette (see Below)

  1. Begin by selecting a pan that is not of the non-stick variety.  Put on high flame
  2. Add the Olive Oil to the pan and let it heat until smoking.
  3. While the pan is heating place flour, salt and pepper in a dish and mix.
  4. Dredge the scallops with the flour mix and shake off all excess (any additional flour will just burn in the pan, not what I call tasty)
  5. Once the pan is hot enough, lay each of the scallops in gently as the oil is hot!  you can use tongs to place them.  (notice how I space them around, not touching and in a ring where the pan is most hot)
  6. The trick here is DO NOT MOVE THEM for 2 minutes. We are not trying to saute, searing requires zero movement.  A great sear is also going to get smoky.  I ended up setting off my fire alarms, much to th chagrin of our cats.
  7. When you see the edges start to get a deep golden brown, using tongs, flip them over one by one.
  8. Let them cook for a minute and a half, then add your Balsamic vinegar to the pan. (don’t inhale, when you do this, it will bring you to tears)
  9. After another minute remove from pan and let sit for 1 minute before serving on the salad.
  10. Toss greens with the dill and place in the center of a plate, placing tomatoes around and the julienne on top of the greens
  11. Place the scallops around the edge (directly on the greens causes them to wilt)
  12. Drizzle the entire plate with the Balsamic Vinaigrette.

For the Balsamic Vinaigrette
Makes 4-6 Servings

1/4 cup
1 tablespoon
1/2 teaspoon
1/3 cup
to taste
Balsamic Vinegar
Dijon Mustard
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

  1. Place all ingredients into a tall container except Olive Oil
  2. Place an immersion blender in the cup and start to run for 15 seconds
  3. In a thin stream add the olive oil.  This should take about a minute to add in.  Go too fast and it will separate.* If you don’t have an immersion blender, using a household blender on a medium setting is just fine.

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One Response to Pan Seared Scallops

  1. Ed McCandless says:

    Great looking site – the logo is sharp, and the recipie reminds us of the cocoa dusted diver scallops we had last weekend in Hershey. Someday maybe I’ll get to dive for my own scallops!

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