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Scallops are one of my favorite things to eat, hands down.  As I write that, I’m realizing I’ve probably said that about several other dishes I’ve posted about recently.  But what can I say, I do have a tendency to cook my favorite foods.  🙂  Scallops are good for you–packed with healthy omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B12, magnesium and potassium, all necessary for cardiovascular health.  So eat those scallops!  There are numerous ways in which scallops can be prepared, whether they be grilled, seared, baked, seasoned with salt and pepper, dressed with butter, or accompanied by fresh vegetables.  I prefer mine simply seasoned only with a bit of salt and pepper, in order to let the natural flavor of the scallops shine through.

While I do love scallops, with their tender, slightly sweet flesh, I don’t like paying those exorbitant restaurant prices for a well-cooked dish of scallops.  

Here’s some tips on how to cook perfect scallops at home:

1) Make sure the scallops are as dry as possible before cooking them.  I do this by placing the scallops on a plate lined with paper towels, covering them with more paper towels, and topping them off with another plate.  Weighing the top plate down with a heavy can helps further squeeze out any remaining moisture.

2) Buying frozen scallops may be more economical than the fresh-caught scallops, but the frozen variety tend to be more water-logged and naturally release more liquid as they defrost.  Keep this in mind, as you may have to change the paper towels out several times.

3) When buying fresh scallops, look for scallops that smell slightly sweet and briny, not fishy. Fresh scallops must be used within 1-2 days.

4) When properly relieved of excess water, reasonably dry scallops will yield a nice, crisp, caramelized crust when grilled or seared.

5) Scallops are done when they can be easily pulled apart and appear white or opaque in color.  Take care not to overcook them!

6) Don’t overcrowd the pan.  Adding more scallops to the pan will only bring down the heat and you’ll have to cook the scallops longer, at the risk of ending up with a rubbery mess.  If you have a lot of scallops to cook, do it in batches, leaving enough elbow room between scallops.

This is a wonderful resource for learning how to cook perfectly crispy-on-the-outside, tender-and-succulent-on-the-inside scallops.

Pan-seared Scallops

1/2 lb. wild Japanese sea scallops (20/30 count)
Kosher salt
Black pepper
3 T vegetable oil

Heat vegetable oil in a large saute pan over medium heat.  Evenly season the scallops on both sides with kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper.  When the oil is hot and the pan slightly smoking, gently place the scallops in the pan, evenly spaced apart, making sure you do not move them once they are in the pan.  Allow the scallops to sear on one side for 5 minutes.  As tempting as it is to peek underneath to see how they’re coming along, absolutely do not touch the scallops!  After 5 minutes, flip each of the scallops over and sear on the other side, approximately 45 seconds to 1 minute, no more.  Immediately remove from the pan, arrange on a serving plate and serve immediately.

Serves 2.

Scallops 2