How To Make Perfectly Pan-Seared Sea Scallops

Buy dry scallops whenever possible.

Scallops are generally sold on the market as either dry or wet-packed. Wet scallops are soaked in a liquid solution, a preservative called Phosphates that keeps them looking white and gives them more shelf time. Besides been treated with unwanted chemicals, when seared the added water will not let them brown properly during cooking. Bottom line: always buy dry scallops if available.

Clean the scallops and season with Kosher salt.

To get a nice sear on the wet packed scallops you’ll need to drain and rinse them thoroughly, then pat them dry with paper towels before seasoning and plopping them in the hot pan. For “dry-packed” scallops, season directly with kosher salt and they’ll be ready to cook. On both cases it will be necessary to Remove the side-muscle if you find any still attached. This little muscle will become rubbery and nearly inedible when the scallop is cooked.

Place Scallops in a hot pan and let them sit until browned.

Heat a tablespoon of clarified butter along with a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a nonstick pan. The oil/butter mixture should be very hot, to the point where it is almost smoking, before you add the scallops. Next, Place the scallops flat side down without overcrowding the pan. If you do you’ll lower the pan temperature and end up with steamed scallops rather than seared. Once the scallops are in the pan, don’t jiggle the pan or move the scallops around. Let them sit in the oil and butter for about a couple of minutes, until they develop a nice caramel brown crust.
Since scallops vary in thickness it’s not easy to pinpoint an exact cooking time. As a general rule, wait for a couple of minutes, then take a peek underneath to make sure they have the nice sear you are looking for. Next, get some kitchen tongs and flip them over.

Cook them on the other side for another minute, no more!.

The problem with scallops is that they overcook easily, so it´s important to watch them closely and never exceed the cooking time. If you do, they will become tough and chewy. Perfectly seared scallops should be tender and able to spring pack when pressed with your thumb. Since they’ll continue to cook after you take them off the heat, remove them from the pan while their centers are still slightly translucent to avoid overcooking.

Get them on the plate right away.

If you wait too long to serve them, they will start to turn rubbery. Arrange them on the plate with the caramel brown crust facing up. If you like, you can melt some extra butter to drizzle it over scallops right before serving or use. Although they are commonly served as a side dish or appetizer, if you make enough they can serve as a great main course. Rice and vegetables such as string beans, asparagus and broccoli make great sides dishes to accompany scallops.