Seared scallops can be a challenging dish to master. With their delicate texture and easy-to-overcook nature, it’s no wonder many home cooks feel intimidated by them. But fear not! In this article, I’ll share with you the single best tip ever for pan-searing scallops. Whether you prefer using a skillet or a griddle, this technique will ensure that your scallops turn out perfectly cooked every time.
How to Prep Scallops
Preparing scallops for searing is a breeze. If you’re not shucking them yourself (which most of us aren’t), all you need to do is rinse them under cold water and remove the abductor muscle. The abductor muscle is a small tag-like piece on the side of the scallop that attaches it to its shell. This muscle can become tough when cooked, so simply pinch it between your thumb and forefinger and peel it off. Now your scallops are ready to be dried.
How to Select the Best Scallops
When it comes to selecting scallops, look for those labeled “dry” or “dry-packed.” Wet-packed scallops have been soaked in a saltwater solution, which adds weight and makes searing them more difficult. Dry scallops retain their natural moisture and are easier to cook.
In terms of appearance, the scallops should be moist and bright, with no bright white patterns resembling snowflakes. These patterns indicate freezer burn, which affects the texture of the scallops. For smell, they should have a fresh, slightly salty scent, not fishy or pungent. Avoid any scallops with an off smell, as they are likely old and won’t taste good, no matter how you cook them.
What Internal Temperature Are Scallops Done?
I prefer my scallops to reach about 130°F when finished. However, it’s important not to cook them until they reach that temperature directly. Due to their small size and high cooking heat, scallops experience carryover cooking. Searing them for about 2 minutes on each side usually brings them to around 115°F, and the residual heat will raise the temperature to the desired range.
The Secret to Perfectly Seared Scallops
Now, here’s the game-changing tip: the paper towel sandwich. The key to perfectly seared scallops is ensuring that they are completely dry. Blotting them with a paper towel partially dries the surface but leaves moisture inside the crevices. To solve this, sandwich your wet scallops between paper towels and let them sit for 20-25 minutes. The paper towels will wick away the water from both sides of the scallops, ensuring a dry surface and crevices.
When you put dry scallops on a hot cooking surface, they sear beautifully instead of steaming. This tip makes all the difference and will make even the most novice cook look like a Food Network star.
How to Make the Perfect Seared Scallops
Now that you know the secret to searing scallops flawlessly, let’s dive into the recipe.
Serves: 4 | Prep time: 30 mins. | Cook time: 5 mins.
- 10-12 large scallops
- 1 tbsp avocado oil (plus 2 tablespoons for the pan or griddle)
- 3 tbsp cajun seasoning (divided)
- 1 tsp chopped parsley (for garnish)
- 1 stick unsalted butter (room temperature)
- 1 small shallot (finely minced)
- Cajun Seasoning:
- 2 tbsp smoked paprika
- 2 tbsp kosher salt
- 2 tbsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp onion powder
- 1 tbsp cayenne powder
- 1 tbsp red pepper flake
- 1 tbsp fine ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp white pepper
- 1 ½ tbsp oregano
- 1 tbsp thyme
- 2 tsp hot paprika
Step 1: Rinse your scallops under cold water, remove the abductor muscle, and place them on a paper towel-lined baking sheet. Cover them with another layer of paper towels and let them dry for 20 minutes.
Step 2: Heat your grill and set it up for high direct heat. Place a cast iron griddle surface over the heat source or use a cast iron pan on the cooktop.
Step 3: While the scallops are drying and the grill is preheating, combine all the ingredients for the cajun seasoning in a shaker bottle. You’ll only need four tablespoons for the recipe, but this seasoning keeps well and adds flavor to many dishes.
Step 4: In a small mixing bowl, mix two tablespoons of cajun seasoning with one stick of room temperature butter and the finely minced shallots. Set aside.
Step 5: Evenly coat the scallops with avocado oil and season them on both sides with one tablespoon of cajun seasoning.
Step 6: With the griddle surface or pan preheated, coat it evenly with two tablespoons of avocado oil. Place the scallops on the hot surface and sear them for two to three minutes per side or until the internal temperature reaches 115°F.
Step 7: Remove the scallops from the grill, top them with room temperature bayou butter, and allow the butter to melt. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve.
Now that you have the ultimate tip for perfectly seared scallops, give this recipe a try and impress your family and friends with your culinary skills. For more delicious recipes and cooking inspiration, visit Ekilove.