Tasty Tips for Cooking Sea Scallops
Scallops are as versatile and easy to cook as shrimp. Whether you prefer them grilled or pan-seared, you can perfect the art of making restaurant quality scallops at home. Just follow these pro tips to cook delectable scallops.
Tips for Buying Scallops
- 1. Make sure fresh scallops pass the smell test. If you pick up fresh scallops, they should have a sweet smell and look moist. If the fresh scallops at your local grocery or fish market look dry or smell off, frozen scallops are a good alternative. Frozen scallops will have the same delicious taste and texture as fresh scallops if they are prepared well.
- 2. Choose the right scallops for your recipe. There are two types of scallops: small bay scallops (around ½ inch) and large sea scallops (between 1 inch and 1 ½ inch). Smaller bay scallops tend to be sweeter. Before you grab a bag of scallops, think about what size or flavor you would prefer.
Tips for Prepping Scallops
- 1.Thaw scallops slowly. Since scallops are small, they cook quickly. Unless you want to eat tough scallops, never thaw them in the microwave which can cook them prematurely. The best method is to thaw them in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight. If you do not have time to do that, put them in a strainer and run lukewarm water over them until they have thawed.
- 2. Always pat scallops dry before cooking. Any moisture on the outside will prevent the scallops from browning correctly. Whether you are cooking fresh scallops or thawed frozen scallops, always pat them dry with a paper towel beforehand.
- 3. Slice large scallops in half. This is the best way to ensure that large scallops don’t become tough. It will allow the scallops to cook all the way through without spending too much time on the heat.
- 4. Always use enough oil and seasoning. Scallops are very lean and have a mild flavor. To prevent them from dying out, be sure to always use a good amount of oil or butter. To give their flavor a boost, don’t skip the seasoning! We recommend using a splash of lemon juice, a marinade or a dry rub along with salt and pepper.
How to Pan-Sear Scallops
Perfectly pan-searing scallops on the stovetop is a skill any home chef can master. Seared meat has a crisp brown edge from being cooked in a hot pan that is a pleasure to bite into. There are just 5 steps to follow for pan-seared scallops:
- 1. Heat a heavy, quality skillet over medium-heat. (Stainless steel and cast iron skillets have the most even heat).
- 2. Add 2 tablespoons of oil to the pan. Be sure to use a vegetable oil, like soybean oil or peanut oil, because these oils can withstand high temperatures unlike olive oil or butter.
- 3. Toss the scallops in a seasoning mix while the pan heats. If you would like them to have a thin crust on the outside, toss them in a mixture of flour and seasoning.
- 4. Place the scallops in the pan with about a ¼ inch of space between each. (Don’t place them too close together!)
- 5. Cook on each side for about 3 minutes, 6 minutes total, or until you see brown around the edges and the center is opaque. Be sure to only turn them over once!
How to Grill or Broil Scallops
The process for grilling and broiling scallops is similar, the only difference is the cooking equipment that you use. In both cases, it is a good idea to skewer the scallops so that you can easily turn them over. Follow these 7 steps to expertly grill or broil scallops:
- 1. Marinate the scallops in an oil-based marinade for 10 to 15 minutes. Cut up any vegetables or fruits that you plan to cook with them—such as pineapple, onion, bell pepper or mushrooms—while they marinate.
- 2. Once they have finished marinating, remove them from the marinade and reserve it to use later in the process.
- 3. Slide the scallops and additional ingredients onto skewers. (Make sure to soak wooden skewers in water for at least an hour beforehand).
- 4. Preheat the oven to broil or heat up the grill to medium-high. If you’re using a grill, grease the grill rack. If you’re using a broiler, grease the broiling pan. This will prevent the scallops from sticking and tearing.
- 5. If you are grilling them, place the skewers on the grill. If you are broiling them, place the skewers on the pan with space in between each and place in the oven about 4 inches from the heat.
- 6. Cook on one side for about 4 minutes then flip over and cook the other side for another 4 minutes on until both are brown. Regularly brush them down with the reserved marinade during this process.
- 7. Remove from heat once they are opaque and browned.
Now that you know how to cook these versatile, savory mollusks, stop by our seafood counter at City Fish Market to pick up some for dinner tonight! If you want a scallop recipe to take your meal to the next level, check out our Pinterest!