Scallops are wonderful little treasures from the sea. These beauties are so versatile and mild, that I think anyone will like them. Even those that claim they do not like seafood, can enjoy a scallop depending on it’s preparation. They can be battered and fried, sautéed with a little butter, grilled, or -my favorite- blackened with wonderful spices and just a quick hot sear on either side.
I had my first taste of a scallop a few years ago at a popular steakhouse. I was a little hesitant to ever try these because they looked so much like their cousins, oysters -which I just can’t eat raw -sorry not a raw fish person. Well the first order of scallops came out cold, and that’s just unpleasant. So we sent it back, and then we got some amazing fresh and hot scallops that nearly melted in our mouths. Scallops are very mild when it comes to that seafood flavor, which means they can take on many different flavors and preparations. And they have a wonderfully light texture when they’re cooked perfectly, searing the outside, whilst still being translucent in the middle.
First, you have to find the right scallops. Living in the Bay Area there’s many fishmongers and markets where fresh seafood is delivered daily, and this is obviously the best way to go. You really can’t beat fresh seafood. But, you can buy scallops frozen, or previously frozen just about anywhere, at nearly any grocery store. What you want to look for, when picking yours up from the store, is that the scallops are ‘dry packed.’ This means your scallops have no additives and were just simply frozen. You want to avoid ‘wet packed’ scallops, these are treated with a chemical (STPP) that causes the scallops to absorb and retain moisture. Other than the grossness of having a chemical on your food, STPP also alters the lovely flavor, and makes searing the scallop troublesome. In short, it’s just not good. So buy either large Fresh Sea Scallops or Dry Packed Sea Scallops. When you get them home, give them a quick rinse to ensure any grit is gone, and dry them off completely. If they are frozen, thaw them completely first, then rinse, and dry, before cooking. Then you can cook your scallops anyway you want!
Blackened Sea Scallops
Scallops are seasoned liberally with homemade seafood seasoning, then pan seared to perfection.
6-8 Large Sea Scallops
3-4 Tbs Homemade Seafood Seasoning (recipe follows)
1 Tbs Olive Oil
1 Tbs Butter
Serve over your favorite Alfredo Sauce and Pasta, or Grits, or with grilled or sautéed veggies.
Rinse and completely dry your scallops. Then liberally coat all sides of your scallop with the seafood seasoning. Add olive oil, and butter to a large pan and heat until it is very hot. Place scallops in the pan. You should hear loud sizzles, and steam/smoke from your pan (that’s ok, kick on the fan if you need to). Cook scallop approx 1-2 minutes, just until it becomes opaque half-way up the side, then flip and cook an additional 1-2 minutes until the opaque meets in the middle. Immediately remove from pan and serve. If you’re feeling cheffy, you can tip your pan a bit and ladle with a spoon some of the oil and butter over the tops of the scallops while you’re searing them.
Scallops really won’t be in the pan longer than 5 minutes, so you should prepare the rest of your meal first. Yes, the spices may stick to the bottom of your pan, that’s fine, you are ‘blackening’ your scallops, so those little pieces of spice may char, but your scallops will be perfect! And a stainless steel pan is best for this if you have one, it will get super hot. Oh and you don’t have to preheat your pan for an hour, that would be way too hot, we don’t want to start a fire, just give it a good 3-5 minutes over the heat so your scallops will sizzle
Homemade Seafood Seasoning
Good over fish, shrimp, scallops, and try it over chicken and veggies too!
1 Tbs. Kosher Salt (coarse sea salt)
1 tsp. Paprika
1/2 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
1/2 tsp. Onion Powder
1/2 tsp. Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp. Oregano
1/2 tsp. Thyme
1/2 tsp. Parsley
1/4 tsp. Crushed Red Pepper
1/4 tsp. Black Pepper
1/4 tsp. Dill
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