Seared Sea Scallops are one of our all-time favorite dishes. Sweet, nutty, slightly salty and with a crisp caramelized crust, seared sea scallops are all that is good about seafood, they taste like nothing else. And, even better, scallops take just a few minutes to prepare and need no special gear to cook. But we are telling you not to make them at home. Ever…UNLESS…
- Unless you have a local fish monger you trust.
- Unless you know how to pick out a good scallop.
- Unless you are cooking the scallops the day you buy them and store them properly.
- Unless you are comfortable cooking seafood to medium rare (or a little less).
As for #1, you are on your own, but we do hope you have a good fish monger nearby. As for #2, #3 and #4 there are some pretty good guidelines to follow:
Sea scallops should be fresh, large (U10 scallops, meaning about 10-12 per pound work best for searing to medium / medium-rare), ivory colored and slightly “sticky” to the touch.”Diver” or “Day-Boat” scallops are expensive, but the best quality. The term for well-kept scallops is “dry”. These are the only kind you want. Period. If you see the scallops in a white liquid, they have been “dipped” in phosphates to extend shelf-life and add water weight. You don’t want these scallops. Seriously, buy something else.
All scallops are highly perishable. Only buy scallops the day you plan to cook them and it is best to keep them chilled until they hit the pan. When buying scallops, a cooler at the supermarket, or an extra bag of ice from your fish monger is the best way to keep scallops cold. Place them on ice in the fridge until you cook them.
When cooking, scallops go from tender and juicy to dry and stringy in a flash. This means you need a light hand when cooking and should pull them from the heat slightly before they are done. Like most proteins, scallops keep cooking in residual heat a few minutes after they leave the pan. If the scallops are “perfect” in the pan, they will be overcooked when they make it to the table. Our guideline at home is to pull the scallops from the heat right when we say “they need one more minute”. They will keep cooking while they rest and be prefect for the plate.