Sea scallops seem to be one of the “scariest” shellfish to prepare. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve ruined perfectly good scallops. The key is to be patient. Scallops really are simple to prepare and can make a fast, delicious dinner if you follow a few important steps.
Make sure you have a good quality heavy bottom skillet that distributes heat evenly. A cast iron skillet is perfect, but if you don’t have one, just a good heavy bottom skillet will do. Coat the bottom of the skillet with a bit of butter and olive oil. Heat the skillet on medium, and when the butter/oil is hot, but not smoking, you’re good to go. Add the scallops and let them sit and sear. Most people get a little nervous and try moving the scallops before they are ready. So be patient and when the scallop develops a nice brown crust on the bottom, it’s time to flip.
There are a multitude of sauces you can use to top scallops. My favorite is simply a citrus vinaigrette which will compliment the scallops and the fresh greens. If you’d like something spicier, the spicy orange vinaigrette in the pan seared dover sole blog would be delicious as well. Happy Cooking!
1 ½ lbs fresh dry packed sea scallops
Kosher salt (Kosher sea salt is excellent on scallops, just use more sparingly)
Fresh cracked black pepper
4-6 cups fresh spring greens (mix of Arugula and baby Spinach is nice too)
1 cup mandarin orange segments
1 lime zested and juiced
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
¾ cup olive oil
Salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
Vinaigrette: Vinaigrettes are typically 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar (or acid). Combine lime and lemon juice to make ¼ cup. Then add the vinegar, honey, Dijon and zest. Whisk together until blended. As you whisk, drizzle in the ¾ cup olive oil. Whisk until all ingredients are well blended together. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
Heat a large skillet on medium and add a few tablespoons of olive oil. If the scallops are moist, dry them with a paper towel and then sprinkle with a little sea salt and pepper.
When the oil is very hot, but not smoking, add the scallops to the skillet, about 1 inch apart. Let the scallops sit and sear in the pan for a minute or two. The scallops will begin to develop a nice golden brown crust and when the scallop is ready to be turned it will easily lift up off the bottom of the pan.
Sear both sides of the scallops (a few minutes on each side depending on thickness) and then place on a warm plate. Toss the vinaigrette with the fresh greens and mandarins, and mound the greens on 4 plates. Next, place a few scallops on each mound of greens and then drizzle with additional citrus vinaigrette.
This is delicious all by itself, but if you’d like to add another side, herbed wild rice, brown rice, cous cous or risotto compliment scallops beautifully. Or try a side of fresh fruit drizzled with a little lime juice, and honey, and tossed with chopped fresh mint.