KENTUCKY (4/9/13) - One of the joys of cooking scallops is they don’t require much fuss-just a skillet, some oil, and a quick flip of the wrist.But before you cook, you have to buy.
Follow my ten fail-proof steps to buy and cook perfectly seared scallops.
1. Buy the best product you can afford. Ask for “dry” scallops at the market. Dry scallops are not soaked in STPP, sodium tripolyphosphate. STPP, a chemical, acts as a preservative and adds moisture, and can be found in seafood products. yes, it's perfectly legal. Read the label on frozen products and again, ask for "dry" scallops at the fresh seafood counter.
2. Use the best cooking oil you can afford, i.e. coconut oil, grape seed oil, olive oil, canola oil. Use something with a high smoke point. I used coconut oil today.
3. Cast iron is best for searing, but stainless steel, non-stick, or a copper skillet works well too.
4. Prepare all other foods, set the table, and pour your favorite libation before you heat the pan.
5. Remove the foot, the tiny muscle (it looks like a flap) from the side of the scallop and throw it away. Some scallops may already be clean.
6. Rinse the scallops in cold water, pat dry with paper towels. They should be bone dry. Season them on the top and bottom with kosher salt and black pepper.
7. Heat your skillet on medium-high heat for three to four minutes. Add a tablespoon of oil and swirl. It should be super-hot.
8. Here’s where you need to really pay attention.
9. Reduce the heat to medium. Set the scallops in the skillet on their top (or bottom, not sides). Don’t crowd the pan. Work in batches if necessary. I sear no more than four at a time in a ten-inch skillet. Once you place them in the smoking hot skillet, don’t move them. This is where you get that beautiful caramelized texture that you see in the photo. Tip: If you add too many scallops to the pan, the scallops will steam, not sear.
10. Use a kitchen timer and sear for two minutes, then flip them and sear another two minutes (maximum) for scallops two inches tall. Less time for smaller scallops. If you’re not sure, sear one as a trial. Tip: Less cooking time is better than more.
Ready to cook?
Scallops are sweet, delicate, and creamy. I like to pair them with bright, spicy, flavors like this Thai Slaw drizzled with a peanut-butter-chili vinaigrette. Yes. Peanut butter.
Any salad will do though. Just have fun with your food. Balance colors and flavors evenly for a healthy meal.
Maureen C. Berry
Freelance Writer and Blogger
Visit Maureen’s nationally renowned culinary website at www.cuisinebymaureen.com
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