Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Simply Scallops

When my wife Amy and I spent vacation in Hawaii, fresh seafood was at our beck and call. So I bought some fresh Scallops at a local market. I was trained that when it comes to Scallops, judgeing freshness is mostly smell then looks then feel. If they smell fishy, best to keep moving. If they smell like the ocean then they are worth further investigation. Next, you want them to feel firm and look milky white. Most scallops you buy at the store have been soaked in a liquid solution that keeps them looking white. So you'll need to drain and rinse them thoroughly, then pat them dry with paper towels. If you're lucky, your local store will carry "dry-packed" scallops, which haven't been treated with this liquid. If you can get these, you don't need to rinse them. If they meet this critique, then off to the kitchen you go.

Scallops are not complicated things. they are actually very simple and easy to prepare as a main dish or just a little something to indulge in. Allot of people have texture issues with Scallops and/or have had fishy tasting experiences. This is common in areas that Fresh Scallops are hard to come by, like Wyoming, were I live. I say the following recipe will serve you well for both frozen or fresh. Shoot for fresh if you can but deal with Frozen if you have too.

Step 1 Seasoning

simply season scallops with Kosher Salt

Step 2 Prepping the Pan

Heat a nonstick saute pan over a high heat, and add a tablespoon of clarified butter (or raw, unsalted butter) and a tablespoon of vegetable oil. The oil/butter mixture needs to be very hot before you add the scallops — you should actually see just the tiniest bit of smoke

Step 3 Applying the Heat

Place the scallops flat-side down in the hot pan. Don't overcrowd the pan, or you'll lower the pan temperature, causing the scallops to be steamed rather than seared.
Another important tip: Once you've placed the scallops in the pan, DON'T TOUCH THEM! If you give in to the temptation to move the scallops around the pan, all you'll be doing is preventing them from forming the nice brown crust that you want. Be strong! Resist the URGE!Because of variation in scallop thickness, pan temperatures and so on, it's not easy to pinpoint an exact cooking time. But after a couple of minutes, it's OK to peek underneath. If you see a nice, caramel-colored crust on the underside, they're ready to flip.
Step 4 Removal from Heat

One of the easiest things in the world to do is to overcook scallops, so be very careful here. The scallops should be removed from the pan and served while their centers are still slightly translucent (you can check this by viewing them from the side), because they'll continue to cook after you take them off the heat.

They should still be quite springy if you press them with your thumb. If they are very firm or stiff, they're already overcooked.

Step 5 Service
Scallops start to turn rubbery if you wait too long to serve them, so get them on the plate right away. And be sure to serve them with the beautiful caramel-colored crust facing up!

If you like, you can melt a bit more butter in the pan and drizzle it across the scallops right before service


There are a few simple things you can do to add flavor. For instance on Step 1 wrap the scallops in Pancetta before going to step 2. I usually tuck the ends of the pancetta into the fold to make them stay during cooking, but if you would rather not you can pin them "very gently" with a toothpick or Sprig of thyme.

Also, on step 5 sprinkle some sesame seeds over the scallops. Toasted sesame seeds also add yet, another degree of depth and flavor

There are simply thousands of things you can do with this basic recipe.

No comments: