Pan Seared Scallops

Every so often, I get a craving. Unfortunately, a law student budget isn’t exactly the friendliest thing for my cravings, most of which involve fine red wines, a fancy dessert, expensive mushrooms, and tender cuts of steak. One food I’ve been craving like mad lately has been scallops. Buttery and bite-sized, it’s hard to beat the flavor of a properly cooked, simply dressed scallop. My craving wasn’t helped this past weekend when I chose to watch a repeat of America’s Test Kitchen and discovered that they were making scallops too!

America’s Test Kitchen might be my favorite cooking show. Chris Kimball is awkward and hilarious, and the test chefs always produce a stellar product. I have yet to try one of their recipes and dislike it. It’s also educational. For example, I learned that there are two kinds of scallops (wet and dry). Wet scallops have been treated with a chemical to make them retain water (and thus increase their weight on the market), whereas untreated, dry scallops retain more of their natural flavor. They are more pink than their “wet” cousins, and produce little water when microwaved for 15 seconds on a paper towel (Yeah, I had to try the test. It’s awesome). Obviously, the dry variety tend to be more expensive, but you can easily camouflage the flavor of the chemical in wet scallops. Simply soak them for half an hour in a mixture of 1 quart water, mixed with 2 oz of fresh lemon juice and a hearty pinch of salt.

What I loved most about this recipe was how simple it was. It really lets the buttery flavor of the scallops shine through. Hope this satisfies any of your seafood cravings. Happy Eating!

Pan Seared Scallops
Recipe from America’s Test Kitchen. I bought the wrong size scallops (oops…) and just cooked them for less time. I’ve copied the America’s Test Kitchen recipe verbatim, but, if you buy the wrong size scallop like I did, just cut down on cooking time. 

  •  1½ lbs scallops, 10-20 per pound variety, with side muscles removed (if wet, pretreat as noted above!)
  • Table salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Lemon-Parsley Sauce (see below)


  • Place your scallops on two paper towels. Top with another two paper towels and press down to release moisture. Allow to sit at room temp for ten minutes, then remove from paper towels and season both sides with salt and pepper.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over high heat until just smoking. Place half the scallops, flat side down, in the pan and cook for about 1½ minutes.
  • Add 1 tablespoon butter to the pan. Immediately flip your scallops and start spooning the melted butter onto them.
  • Cook for an additional minute and transfer to a plate.
  • Wipe the pan clean and repeat with remaining scallops.
  • Serve warm with sauce.

Serves 4.

Lemon-Parsley Sauce


  • 4-6 tablespoons butter
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • Juice of one lemon


  • In a small saucepan, heat your butter over medium-low heat. Allow to melt and brown, about 4 minutes. Be sure to swirl the pan in between so that the butter doesn’t burn.
  • Once the butter has browned, add in your shallot. Cook about 30 seconds, then add in your parsley and lemon juice. Swirl to combine.
  • Serve atop pan seared scallops.


2 responses to “Pan Seared Scallops

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