Sautéed Sea Scallops


by: Chef Ria

Old cookbooks call for cooking scallops for 20 minutes and then covering them with a thick béchamel and broiling them. In fact, scallops need very little cooking—they are even delicious raw when freshly shucked—to bring out their delicate flavor; just enough to heat them through. When sautéing scallops, you need high heat to brown the two sides without overcooking the inside. Also, if the heat isn’t high enough, the scallops will release liquid (especially if they have been soaked) into the pan and then boil in their own juices. Get your sauté pan very hot before you add the scallops, and then start sautéing them one at a time, waiting for the last one added to start browning before you add the next one. When they are ready to turn, after 2 to 5 minutes, turn them only one or two at a time. If you turn them all at once, the pan will cool and the scallops will release liquid. This is one time when you can use a pan larger than needed to hold the scallops in a single layer. If you are serving scallops as a first course or as part of a multicourse dinner, serve a single very large scallop for a stunning presentation. If you are serving the scallops as the main course, make them in White Wine-Herb Sauce.


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serves: 4

16 large sea scallops (for main courses; 18 small sea scallops, or 6 very large sea scallops, for first courses)

3 tablespoons vegetable oil (olive oil, or grapeseed oil)

Salt, preferably fleur de sel


Nutrition Facts
Sautéed Sea Scallops

Servings Per Recipe: 4

Amount per Serving

Calories: 222

  • Total Fat: 17 g
  •     Saturated Fat: 10 g
  •     Trans Fat: 0 g
  • Cholesterol: 33.5 mg
  • Sodium: 287.7 mg
  • Total Carbs: 6.3 g
  •     Dietary Fiber: 0 g
  •     Sugars: 0 g
  • Protein: 11.2 g

how is this calculated?

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1.  Don’t season the scallops with salt and pepper ahead of time, because the salt will draw out their liquid and the flavor of the pepper will be destroyed by the heat. Pat the scallops perfectly dry.

2.  Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over high heat until the oil smokes. Add 1 or 2 scallops, wait for about 30 seconds, and then add 2 more scallops. Continue in this way until the first scallops you added are well browned on one side. This should take 2 to 3 minutes. Then begin to turn the scallops, starting with those that are browned and turning 1 or 2 at a time. Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes on the second side, or until all the scallops have a brown crust on both sides. Remove from the pan, and place on a paper towel—covered plate to absorb the excess oil. Season with salt and pepper and serve on warmed plates. If you have fleur de sel, put a tiny pinch of it in the center of each scallop.

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