Seared scallops are a big deal in the restaurant world for many reasons. The only one I care about is that they taste awesome. Lately, my fish guy Mo the local Stop n’ Shop has been stocking some great sea scallops and at a considerable discount ($11 instead of $15 per pound). They look great- it’s important that the container they’re in is dry and free from milky liquid, they themselves are shiny and have no trace of foul odor.
Remember to remove the little side abductor piece before cooking, as these contain grit. Searing them isn’t terribly hard, but you have to be careful. If you bought good scallops they shouldn’t be in any way wet when it comes time to sear. If they are, dry them thoroughly. Get your pan very hot and add some high-smoking oil like peanut. Add the scallops with plenty of room between them and cook for one minute. Then, using tongs, flip them and cook for 1-2 additional minutes, depending on doneness. Scallops can be consumed with rare centers, although some find this distasteful or dangerous. Bail and let cool a little. Here you have some options. First, you can use a creme brulee torch (or bigger/hotter butane model) to add more caramelization to the outside. Aim the flame at the top of the scallops and flame on until the top turns slightly more brown. You can keep going, but you risk cooking them more or burning them. Also, you can slice them from one big marshmallowy shape into three thinner wafers. This makes them easier to serve on something else (and stretches the amount).
Pictured above, they are topped with a French tomato sauce and served over risotto. The sauce is a can opf tried-and-true petite cut tomatoes cooked down with some honey and balsamic vinegar then blended. Sweet and smooth sauces work well with these little guys. Instead of risotto, lentils would be a very traditional partner to these babies as well. Enjoy!