Sea scallops are one of the ocean’s greatest gifts. Not only are they beautiful to look at, but they have a delicate umami-filled flavour of the sea that matches perfectly with deep butter and herbs. Scallops are perfect for a special occasion as a special treat.
As with most of the finest seafood, a light touch is recommended - most scallop recipes call for just a few simple ingredients and a short cooking time.
How to cook scallops
Scallops can be grilled, but they are best pan-seared on a medium-high heat. Add the butter to the pan, don’t scrimp on the butter as you will want to baste the scallops in the melted butter. Add the dry scallops to the pan and sear the scallops in a cast-iron skillet. Add salt and pepper to the scallop for seasoning. When the butter is bubbling, spoon the saturated fat over the scallop and continue to cook.
Cook for about two minutes on each side until the outside of the scallops are caramelised on each side. Take the scallops from the pan and set aside. Add a glass of white wine to the butter in the pan and reduce. Add the juice of one lemon and capers to the butter sauce.
Prepare some garlic butter by crushing two minced cloves of garlic in a mortar and pestle and add butter. Serve the scallops on the shell with a knob of the garlic butter melting over the top.
Scallops: nutritional facts
Scallops are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids as well as Vitamin B and D, and Potassium. There are usually cooked with butter though, so that means many scallop recipes can be high in cholesterol - more for special occasions than a midweek dinner.
What pairs with scallops?
Scallops have a delicate but distinctive flavour that evokes the sea. It is best not to overpower the scallops with strong flavour but garlic works extremely well. Lemon, capers and dill enhance the seafood flavour and they take seasoning with salt and pepper very well. Flat leaf parsley is also a very good addition to sea scallops. Scallops also go very well with pancetta, bacon and black pudding.
How do you know scallops are fresh?
Give scallops the tap test before buying them: gently tap the shell. A healthy scallop will shut when you tap it. Fresh scallops should also smell like the ocean - a delicate saltiness; a strong fishy smell is a sign of age. Frozen scallops are perfectly safe to eat but they will not have the same flavour as fresh ones.
How long can you keep scallops in the fridge?
Scallops should not be kept in the fridge for more than two days. They are best when used within one day of buying them so buy them on the day you are planning on cooking them. It’s a good idea to phone your fishmonger ahead and order them, to make sure you’re dinner plans don’t get disrupted.
Do you need to wash scallops before cooking them?
After you shuck your scallop you only need to rinse it in cold water before you cook it. If you are serving your scallop on the shell, make sure you wash the shell well under running water first.