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.
Ok, so now that you have the scallops and the technique, cooking them is easy. You need a large, heavy skillet at medium-high heat and a cooking fat with a high smoke point. Clarified butter or bacon fat are good choices that add flavor (plain vegetable oil is OK, too). We place a little oil, salt and pepper on the scallops just before they hit the pan. Once the pan is hot, add the remaining oil and then the scallops, well-spaced. If using U10 scallops, expect to cook them 3 – 3.5 minutes per side, depending on thickness. Flip the scallops only once, so you get a good crust. When the scallops are medium-rare, pull them from the heat and let them rest on a warm plate for 2-3 minutes before serving.
You can simply serve these scallops with a squeeze of lemon, and you will be very, very happy. But if you want to add some extra flavor, we suggest a beurre-blanc sauce. In this case we like a hot-sauce beurre-blanc using Sriracha, a popular south-asian style hot sauce with a touch of garlic. (In New Orleans they often make a beurre blanc with Crystal hot sauce). The Sriracha beurre blanc adds a creamy texture and a bit of heat and acidity to the sweet and salty scallops. And making beurre blanc is fun (if you like this kind of thing, and we clearly do).
Beurre blanc sauce is a traditional french sauce that, unsurprisingly, uses butter. For this sauce, vinegar, lemon juice or white wine and shallots reduce to a syrup and then, off the heat, cold cubes of butter are whisked-in to form an emulsion. You get a light, creamy sauce that is a good vehicle for other flavors like herbs, or in this case hot sauce. As the Sriracha has vinegar in it, we use rice wine vinegar that is sweeter than a cider or red wine vinegar to cut the acidity of the sauce. But any good vinegar or lemon juice will work here, feel free to play around.
As for serving the scallops, we plate them with a slice of lemon, a few tablespoons of the beurre blanc and a sprinkle of herbs. You can serve 2 scallops per plate as an appetizer or 3 as a main course. And it wouldn’t hurt to make a few extra scallops so you can snack while you finish the dish…as the scallops look, smell and taste so good they will be hard to resist!
Seared Sea Scallops With Sriracha Beurre Blanc
Notes Before You Start:
- U10 scallops mean under 10 scallops per pound. These are the “big guys” and will usually be at least 1 inch thick and up to 2 inches wide.
- You can use smaller U15 scallops but lower the cooking time slightly and make sure to space the scallops in the pan to avoid steaming the scallops.
What You Get: One of the best seafood dishes available.
What You Need: Quality sea scallops, which are hard to find. No other special equipment required.
How Long? 20-30 minutes total. Less than 10 minutes to make the scallops and about 20 minutes for the beurre blanc. This is an anytime dish.
(Serves 4 as a main course, 6 as an appetizer)
Seared Sea Scallops:
- 12 sea scallops, preferably U10
- 3 tablespoons clarified butter, bacon fat or vegetable oil
- Salt and pepper
- 1 lemon, sliced into wedges
Sriracha Beurre Blanc:
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar (or red-wine vinegar)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon Sriracha
- 1/4 pound (1 stick) of cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh herbs (parsley, chives or thyme), for garnish
- Salt and pepper
Seared Sea Scallops:
- Place a large steel or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, drizzle 1 tablespoon of the clarified butter on the scallops and lightly sprinkle on some salt and pepper.
- Once the pan is hot, add the remaining clarified butter and then add the scallops to the pan. Make sure to spread out the scallops so they sear, rather than steam. Let cook for 3 minutes on one side (3.5 minutes if the scallops are thick) without moving the scallops. Then flip the scallops and cook for another 3 – 3.5 minutes without moving the scallops. If the scallops are firm on the outside but still yield a bit to pressure they are ready to take off the heat.
- Place the scallops on a warm plate and let them rest for 2-3 minutes. Serve with a wedge of lemon or with Sriracha beurre blanc.
Sriracha Beurre Blanc:
- Combine the minced shallot, vinegar and lemon juice in a medium saucepan and place the pan over medium heat. Reduce to about 2 tablespoons of syrupy liquid.
- Once the liquid reduces, stir in the Sriracha and place the heat on the lowest possible setting. Slowly whisk-in the cubes of butter until all are incorporated. Take the pan off the heat occasionally to keep the sauce from separating. Taste for seasoning, add salt and pepper as needed, and serve with Seared Sea Scallops. Garnish with some chopped herbs, if you like.
This I have to try for sure!
Recipes like this make me wish I ate seafood!
Confession – I hate scallops. The idea of Sriracha Beurre Blanc has me intriqued. I will have to try this dish at home. It might change my view of scallops.
The sauce is great on any fish as well. YOu can use souther hot sauce or Sriracha…
I agree, not a big fan of scallops but I think this would be delicious on shrimp, I make a Sriracha Shrimp Scampi that is similar
I’ll keep the sauce recipe on file for other fish. Regretfully we are too landlocked to get the big sweet scallops like yours. (They are my favorite seafood!)
Thanks. It will work with any rich fish you can get. You can use your favorite hot sauce, too…
Enjoying your blog, btw. Hope your garden continues to thrive…
We love Sriracha here 🙂
Yum, I’ve never cooked scallops before but this recipe makes me want to try
I love scallops, i am going to have to try and hunt some down after reading this, it sounds fabulous!
Its a good dish. Thanks for reading!
Holy wow! I’m off to the fishmonger’s!
these look fabulous!
Thanks for reading!
How absolutely yummy, and thanks for stopping by my blog. cheers!
Funny, I never thought I liked scallops until I had them on a visit east and had them fresh caught from a ship turned restaurant – they served only what they caught that day, and when they were out, they were out.
On one visit, we waited for a bit because they were just hauling in the lobster. (I thought I didn’t like lobster, either, until I had it fresh.)
Your scallops look truly wonderful…my mouth is watering just looking at them.
Thanks. We visit the east coast every year and just love the fresh scallops- such a treat.
Yummm! They just opened Scalloping season by me, so I’ll have to go harvest some Scallops and make this recipe, it sounds delicious.
Thanks for reading and hope you enjoy it. Hope you survived the weather…your photos made it look like it was quite a storm..
Mmmm! sounds delish! Just ordering some Sriracha sauce from friends in the UK so looking forward to testing this recipe out while at http://thebeachhousefrance.wordpress.com/!! Many thanks!
Sounds and looks fantastic. I am sure it will taste even better!! Thanks!
What a great combination!
Thanks- fun dish to make, too…
Love seared scallops, and sriracha. Thanks for the visit to The Nutrition Doctor is In the Kitchen! Cheers, PK
Thanks for reading and the kind words…hope you enjoy the dish…
Siricha beurre blance…who woulda thunk it? Thanks again for supporting Fried Neck Bones and Some Home Fries.
Reblogged this on 3rd and B and commented:
I’m really excited to try this Sriracha sauce on fish!
Guys that looks like a great sauce! I may try it on grilled shrimp (?). Unfortunately the only thing in the whole wide world I am allergic to is scallops. I love them, but they do not reciprocate. Another unique and wonderful post from Putney Farm!
Thanks for reading. The sauce will work on any sweet seafood, and southern shrimp certainly are sweet…we used to eat shrimp straight from Calibogue sound- good stuff. Hope you enjoy it!
Soooo… Can i just find someone to make this for me? Anyone? Anyone?
I love you. You had me at Sriracha.
Thanks! Sriracha seems to end up in a lat of dishes around here…
That is just so awesome. Scallops are so rarely seen in Brazil.
Your water may be a bit warm…the sause will work with other fish and shellfish…
Yes, the water here is warm. I already have plans for the sauce, I am thinking of mussels.
These look absolutely delicious. I will have to go find a good local fish monger and buy some scallops to attempt this recipe. Also, thanks for the tips about cooking scallops.
Thanks for reading! And if you can’t get scallops other seafood also works with the sauce…
Going to try these soon! I love scallops, soooo easy! This sauce is awesome. I just finished up my Sriracha last week I have to buy another!
Hope you like it!
These scallops sound delicious! Must try them!
Also, thanks for visiting my blog! Much appreciated 🙂
Thanks for the visit!
Great recipe. Turned out well but the sauce says 1lb of butter (1 stick). Each stick is 1/4lb of butter. 1lb would make an insane amount of sauce for 12 scallops.
Yup- sorry, that was a typo. Our apologies…revised. Thanks for letting us know.
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Gosh that looks delicious. Have to try that out soon. (Great, clear instruction too btw) Many thanks also for reading and following my blog, much appreciated. -Arran. 🙂
Thanks- and we like your blog quite a bit!
FYI the Sriracha Beurre Blanc makes almost anything taste good…worth a try.
mmmmmm i love scallops. i shall have to try this!
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I’ve made this sauce a few times now and its fantastic! Filet mignon, scallops and this sauce, cauliflower-sweet potato puree and cucumber salad with honey-lemon vinegarete. Wow.
Thanks! We do like our Sriracha- so this sauce just gives us another excuse to use it…
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One other teeny tiny typo… where it says “They will keep cooking while they rest and be prefect for the plate.” I’m sure ‘perfect’ was meant, though it’s more like ‘PERFECT’ 😀
I LOVE LOVE LOVE Beurre Blanc sauce and this sounds absolutely divine. I have one problem though; I’m land locked in AZ and don’t have a good fishmonger. Any ideas where I could purchase ‘dry’ scallops? I take it that frozen wouldn’t do here. If anyone reading has any suggestions, that’d be just fine with me.
Thanks for the terrific blog!
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