This recipe works best with extra large scallops, no more than 15 per pound, but if using smaller ones keep the heat high and decrease the cooking time. Also, always ask for dry-packed scallops, meaning they have not been soaked in phosphates, which causes them to swell with water which they then release when cooked, making them impossible to sear. Dry pack scallops cost more, but you’re not paying for the extra weight from the retained moisture of soaked scallops.
- Servings 2-3
- 454 grams (1 pound/10-12) extra large dry-packed sea scallops
- 30 ml (2 tablespoons) extra-virgin olive oil
- 30 ml (2 tablespoons) unsalted butter
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 118 ml (½ cup) dry white wine
- 1 lemon, halved, seeds removed
- 30 ml (2 tablespoons) chopped fresh Italian parsley
- Thirty minutes before cooking, remove the scallops from the refrigerator, rinse with cold water, pat dry with paper towels and put them on a plate lined with paper towels, covering the top with another paper towel. Allow the scallops to come to room temperature. To get a good sear, it’s essential that the scallops be completely dry before being sautéed.
2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, until hot but not scorching. Add the oil first and then the butter and raise the heat to medium-high, cooking until the butter has melted and the foam begins to subside. The mixture should be very hot, but not smoking. As the oil and butter are heating, pat the scallops dry once more and sprinkle the side facing up with 5 ml (1 teaspoon) kosher salt and 2.5 ml (½ teaspoon) black pepper.
3. When the oil and butter mixture is very hot, add the scallops, seasoned side down, to the pan in a single layer, leaving space between them. The scallops should sizzle when they hit the pan. Season the side of the scallops that’s now facing up with an additional 5 ml (1 teaspoon) kosher salt and 2.5 ml (½ teaspoon) black pepper. Allow the scallops to sear undisturbed until nicely crusted and golden brown, about 2 minutes or longer. If necessary, work in batches, but don’t overcrowd the pan or the scallops will steam rather than sear.
4. After 2 minutes of cooking, lift one scallop with a spatula and peek to see if it’s done. If not crusted and golden, continue to cook for another minute. Turn the scallops and sear until the second side is browned and the scallops are almost firm to the touch, another 2 minutes or so depending on their size. Do not overcook, as you want a lightly crusted outside and succulent interior.
5. Transfer the scallops to a warmed serving platter (just place it under hot water for a minute and pat it dry). Turn the heat to medium-high and add the white wine, stirring to loosen any browned bits from the pan. When the mixture has reduced half, squeeze the lemon juice into the pan, add the parsley, swirl to combine and pour over scallops. Serve immediately.