Under no circumstances are limp, colorless scallops okay. The texture of a improperly seared scallop is a real turn off and so here are a few words on how to sear them properly.
I know this isn’t rocket science, but I’ve cooked and eaten a lot of bad scallops. A few simple steps will ensure buttery, golden scallops every time.
Perfect Seared Scallops
- First of all, it helps to brine them in a little bit of salt water. 10 minutes tops, otherwise they’ll be too salty and they’ll start to get mealy. (Typical brining solution: 2 cups kosher salt, 2 cups hot water, 8 cups cold water)
- When you take them out of the brine, dry them with a paper towel. The drier you get them, the better they’re going to sear.
- Put a tablespoon or so of butter in a piping hot (but not smoking) pan. I really like to use cast-iron here because it gets incredibly hot very fast. Using your hands, place the scallops firmly in the pan. Press them down. Make sure they’re one with the surface. This is the best way to get a caramelized crust.
- Sear them for 3-4 minutes. Don’t be tempted to flip them too early. Wait until you see signs of caramelization on the bottom of the scallops before you flip. Resist, resist, resist. (Oh you think they’re done? Are you sure?)
- Flip the scallops when you see a nice crust and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. The middle should be glistening and slightly translucent. The outside should be firm.
- By the way, that butter that’s sizzling on the bottom of the pan? Use it to baste. The entire time you should be spooning that butter on top of the scallops. This keeps them moist and flavorful.