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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Basic Seared Scallops

One of the silliest things I hear is when people say they are afraid of scallops.  Cooking scallops that is.  What I tell them is to just treat it like a steak.  Don't cook it all the way through and use high heat.  The less the better.

Tonight I made some tasty seared scallops cooked with just olive oil and butter.  Ideally, you'd want to use solely butter, but butter burns way too easily, so I had to mix some olive oil into it.  I guess I could've made clarified butter, but you know what?  I'm a lazy guy.

I was shopping around and found some nice wild U-12 scallops on sale.  U-12 just means 12 scallops or less per pound.  You can tell they're "dry" scallops because they're rosy and not bleach white in color.  The bleach white color is a no-no... it means they've put chemicals and other crap into the scallops.

Picture is a bit dark, but the scallops were nice and rosy.

To start off, all you'll need is:
14 or so scallops U-12 sized scallops
1 tbp unsalted butter
2 tsp olive oil

To get started, what you'll need to do is rinse your scallops well.  Just run them under cold water for a bit.  Then pat them dry with paper towels. This is very, very, very important.  If there's a lot of water, it'll steam and you won't get the nice sear on your scallops... that's not good... unless you like rubbery scallops.

Set a large 12" cast iron or stainless steel pan on high heat.  Add the olive oil and butter and let the butter melt.  Once butter barely begins to brown, add in the scallops.  You want to add them in an orderly fashion (I just set them clockwise on the outer rim then start with the inner rim).  This is very important because scallops cook very fast and if you mess up they'll overcook.  As soon as you drop down your first scallop, begin your timer for 1:30 minutes.  After dropping all the scallops into the pan, use a spoon to baste the scallops over the top.  Then after 1:30, start flipping the scallops the same way you put them into the pan.  They should have a beautiful sear.  Cook for another 90 seconds.  Don't forget to baste the scallops on this side as well.

After they've cooked is when I normally add the S&P.  They start to absorb the salt when they're nicely cooked.  You can use the fond to make a sauce for the scallops, but what I did was just use the leftover butter (and fond) to make some steamed clams which I will blog about in my next post.  As long as you have your mise en place, you'll easily be able to eat your scallops nice and hot while you get your clams cooking.  I served my scallops with a garden salad with balsamic vinaigrette, s&p, and some grated parm.