If there were something like the culinary Olympics, I’d enter in the category of scallops. For whatever reason, they’re one of my favorite things to make – and so I thought I’d share with you a little scallop technique on this fine December day.
Tools you will need: cast iron pan, lots of butter, lots of hungry people. The key, as I hope you will see, is flour. Just as in a nice piece of seared fish, a dusting in flour will get you that golden crust you covet at fine dining restaurants.
The other key? Patience. In all of my cooking research, training and interviewing, I have found that best cooks are often the ones who don’t fuss with the food while it’s cooking. Let it sear and you shall be rewarded.
Seared Scallops with orange reduction
1 cup orange juice
3 tbs soy sauce
1-2 tablespoons butter
1 to 1 1/4 pounds dry sea scallops, approximately 16
1 cup all purpose flour
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
Reduce the orange juice in a small pot for 15-20 minutes or until the juice is reduced by half. Add the soy sauce and swirl in the butter.
Dry the scallops very well with a paper towel. The drier you get them, the better they’re going to sear. Season with salt and pepper. Dust them in flour and tap of the excess.
Put a tablespoon or so of canola oil in a piping hot (but not smoking) pan. I really like to use cast-iron here because it gets incredibly hot very fast. Press the scallops firmly down so that they’re making really good contact with the pan. You want to hear a strong sizzle. (This is the best way to get a caramelized crust.)
Sear them anywhere from 3-5 minutes. Don’t be tempted to flip them too early. Wait until you see signs of caramelization on the bottom 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 1-2 minutes. Place two tabs of butter in the pan and baste the scallops with a spoon as they finish. When you cut into the scallops, the middle should be glistening and slightly translucent. The outside should be firm.
Spoon the orange reduction over the scallops and serve.