Sea scallops are a very versatile ingredient that make elegant yet tasty dishes. They are good value for money, an awesome source of lean protein, and are ridiculously easy to prepare. Here are our best tips to make the most of them.
How to cook scallops in 5 easy steps
1. Remove the orange roe: Not all scallops come with the edible orange roe attached. But if they do, and you don’t like it, get rid of it along with the tough piece of muscle that attaches it to the scallop.
2. Slice the larger scallops: Cut any larger scallops in half horizontally so that you have two neat discs of meat.
3. Season the scallops with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Have them to hand close to your cooking range because you’ll need to work quickly as they cook so fast.
4. Lay the scallops in the pan: Heat 1 tablespoon vegetal oil in a large skillet over a high heat. Carefully lay the scallops, one at a time, making a circle starting at 12 o’clock – this way you’ll know which went in first. Don’t overcrowd the pan otherwise they will steam.
5. Turn the scallops: Scallops cook very quickly, so by the time you put the last one in the pan, the first will be brown and ready to flip over. Use a palette knife to gently turn each scallop and cook them about 1 minute more, then transfer onto kitchen paper on a warm plate to drain the oil.
Our Best tips for success
Check the color when buying: Avoid scallops that are bright white in color. They certainly have been soaked in brine to make them swell.
Try frozen scallops: For a really good-value option, especially if you don’t live near the seaside, go for frozen scallops. You can easily pan-fry them from frozen, it will take about 4 minutes each side.
Fresh scallops: You can buy fresh scallops in their shells. Ensure the shell is well closed, then use an oyster shucking knife to open them. Remove the frill, the black sack and the roe or coral (unless you prefer to eat it) and leave just the white flesh. Rinse well with cold water.
Pat dry: Rinse the scallops under cold water and pat them dry with paper towels before cooking. If scallops have too much moisture on the outside, they will steam instead of browning properly.
Don’t overcrowd the skillet: Choose a heavy duty non-stick frying pan. Cast iron and stainless steel skillets provide even heating and can withstand high temperatures. Don’t crowd scallops in the pan or they will steam. Cook in batches, if necessary, so you will have a better control on the cooking times.