The Simple Way to Make Scallops at Home

Mj 618_348_the simple way to make scallops at home
Photograph by Sam Kaplan - Food Styling by Ed Gabriels for Halley Resources

If you cook scallops even a little too long, they’re better passed across a hockey rink than a table – at least that’s the common rap. Which is a shame, because nothing is quite like a well-seared scallop: tender and creamy-sweet, with a caramelized edge. They’re also way easier to get right than you think.

The trick? Maximize the heat while minimizing the time. Scallops can take a lot of it – just be sure to give them plenty of space in the pan.

Here’s how to sear them right every time, along with a recipe for a buttery cider sauce that’s perfect for seafood.

How to Buy Scallops

The two things you need to know:

1. Get them fresh.

Good ones will be ivory-colored and smell clean – i.e., not like fish.

2. Make sure they’re dry.

“Undipped” or “dry” scallops haven’t been treated with a preservative that causes them to take on water. Dipped ones sweat when cooked, and they’ll never brown correctly.

Scallops with Cider Sauce Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 2 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 2/3 cup quality apple cider, plus a little extra
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • Salt, as needed
  • 1½ sticks butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 1 lb dry sea scallops (see “How to Buy,” left)
  • Vegetable oil, as needed

For the sauce:

Step One
Set a saucepan over medium heat and add the shallot, vinegar, cider, thyme, and a pinch of salt. Reduce until syrupy, 10 to 15 minutes.

Step Two
Turn heat to low and whisk in a few pieces of butter at a time, until they’re all incorporated.

Step Three
Cover and move to the back of the stove.

For the scallops:

Step One
Blot scallops with a paper towel until dry, then season one side with salt.

Step Two
Place a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and coat the inside well with oil. When the first wisps of smoke rise from the oil, raise the heat to high and add scallops, salted-side down.

Step Three
Let sear undisturbed for 2 to 4 minutes. When the undersides are deeply browned, season with salt and flip.

Step Four
Sear the other side for 1 to 2 minutes, until the scallops are bouncy but still tender.

Step Five
Remove to a plate; drain oil from the pan.

Step Six
Add a splash of cider to the pan, and stir with a wooden spoon. Add the juice to your sauce.

Step Seven
Serve the scallops with sauce drizzled on top.

For access to exclusive gear videos, celebrity interviews, and more, subscribe on YouTube!