Saturday, April 11, 2015

Pan Seared Sea Scallops

These tasty morsels are easy and quick to cook, but you do need to select good scallops and get them ready for cooking an hour or so in advance of the final preparation if you want a great result.  I usually serve them on top of rice, but of course they go well with just about everything.

Julian's Pan Seared Sea Scallops
Purchasing Scallops:  Of course purchasing the scallops is where your process begins and you can find a variety of scallop options at most grocers. They come fresh and frozen. For this recipe you are looking for a larger sea scallop, also sometimes called a diver scallop. These are the same variety of shellfish, the latter designated as such because it is harvest by divers. You are looking for scallops that are 1-2 inches in diameter, sometimes called 10/30 per pound (means10 to 30 per pound) or U15 or U10 (meaning under 15 or under 10 per pound, so these are the big boys).  I don't go for the very largest scallops as I think the seared crust is better on the mid-sized scallops, but the choice is yours. Avoid the tiny bay scallops for this recipe. As always, get the fresh if available. If not, the frozen will work fine if you thaw them slowly in cold water, changing it several times in the process.

Dry Scallops are Key to Browning
Technique:  The below instructions lay out the technique for removing excess moisture from the scallops. If you do not do this, your pan will likely be filled with a white liquid that prevents the scallops from browning. While they would still be edible, they will not look or taste as good.

Cook on the second side 1-2 minutes.
Sea Scallops, thawed if previously frozen
Paper towels
Sugar, granulated white
Canola oil

Line a plate or cutting board with 2-3 layers of paper towels. Set the scallops on the paper towels and blot dry with more paper towels. Uncover, and salt heavily. Turn and salt the other side. Don't be concerned about using too much salt as this will be washed away before cooking. Cover with another paper towels, press down gently and set aside for 30 minutes. Line another plate or board with 2-3 layers of paper towels, and transfer the scallops to the new plate, turning them over as you go. Cover with another layer of paper towels discarding the wet towels from the original plate. Gently press the paper towel down onto the scallops and set aside for another 30 minutes.

Rinse the scallops in colander to remove excess salt and drain.  Line a plate or board with paper towels once again and lay the scallops on the paper. Blot with a second towel and let sit for 5 minutes as you heat oil in the skillet over medium-high heat. Uncover the the scallops and sprinkle with a light coating of sugar. This will aid in browning. Add the oil to a non-stick skillet. When the oil is shimmering hot and nearly smoking, add the scallops sugared side down and cook 2-4 minutes until will browned. Turn with tongs and cook another 1-2 minutes until they are medium rare in the centers. Serve immediately.

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