Herby Pan Seared Scallops


There’s no better seafood treat than sweet, plump, fresh scallops, seared to buttery perfection. This easy recipe is perfect for a date night, special occasion, or a weekday indulgence. Golden seared scallops swim in a bath of garlic caper butter sauce finished in the pan with fresh thyme, parsley, and a hit of lemon juice to wake up all the flavors. 

For another delicious scallop recipe try my Pan-Seared Scallops with Lemon Parsley Pasta.  For more shellfish magic, check out my 5-Ingredient Clams Casino, an old school classic made super simple.   

I love scallops.  They always feel like an indulgence, despite being so easy to make. This scallops recipe is going to knock your socks off. Imagine plump rich scallops seared to golden brown and finished with a rich herbaceous garlic butter sauce enhanced by briney capers and a splash of fresh lemon juice.  Seafood Magic in under 10 minutes!  I also have a genius  trick for leftovers that will give you a whole new amazing seafood dish with just a few steps. 

You’ll Love this Recipe

  • Many people are intimidated by the prospect of cooking scallops but I’m happy to share that there is nothing to fear. Scallops are actually one of the easiest things make when a seafood fix is in order. All you need is a non-stick pan or heavy-bottomed skillet, the freshest scallops you can find, a few simple ingredients, and about 10 minutes. This scallop recipe highlights the rich sweetness and fork-tender texture of scallops and their ability to support bold flavors. 

Let’s Get Cooking!

Bay Scallops vs Sea Scallops, Which should I Use?

What is the difference between these two different types of scallops? Bay scallops are smaller, about 80-100 per pound. Sea scallops are larger and meatier.  Bay scallops are sweeter and only found in east coast waters.  Their size makes them perfect for stews and casseroles.  Sea scallops are typically 1/2 – 1 inch in diameter and come from deeper ocean waters. A pound of sea scallops typically contains 8-30 scallops depending on their size with the larger U-10 size  (under 10 pieces in a pound) considered very desirable.  Large sea scallops are ideal for this recipe but my recommendation is to use whatever is freshest and the best quality you can find. This recipe will produce delicious results with both smaller bay scallops or just a few larger sea scallops.  Once you get those babies rolling around in a bath of hot herby butter and capers for a couple of minutes, it all comes down to the quality of the ingredients.   Freshness and personal preference are the most important factors in deciding which type of scallop you choose.  Remember, the best scallops are the freshest scallops. 

Ingredients and Helpful Substitution Tips

Detailed measurements and ingredients can be found within the recipe card at the end of this post.

  • Really Good Quality Scallops:  As with any seafood dish, quality counts a great deal. The final outcome will be meaningfully affected by the quality of the ingredients. However, freshness does not always mean that you can’t or should not use frozen. Often good quality seafood at the fish counter has already spent some time in a frozen state on its way to your grocery store. Many stores also sell high-quality seafood in the frozen section and some DTC brands offer exceptional quality frozen seafood delivered to your door.  Use sources you trust, and don’t hesitate ask your fish monger or seafood counter for recommendations.  
  • The Acid – organic lemon:   I prefer organic but feel free to use conventional. 
  • The Fourth Dimension of Flavor – Capers:  Capers are a natural companion to seafood as they are 
  • Fresh Herbs and Such – parsley, thyme and garlic:  This classic flavor profile will enhance just about any seafood sear or roast. Parsley brings a fresh green finish to the dish while thyme and garlic infuse the pan sauce with a satisfying earthiness. 
  • The Fats – olive oil and salted butter:  You will start the cooking in the olive oil and finish the dish with a wedge of butter.  Adding butter at the end of cooking is the easiest way to enhance the flavor of whatever is in the pan.  It also forms the backbone of the simple pan sauce that will coat the scallops.  Similar to how butter makes shrimp scampi so good! 
  • The Pantry –  Salt and fresh crushed black pepper: because we always season proteins before cooking.

The Technique- How to Make This Recipe

Cooking notes:

Cooking time will vary slightly based on the size of your scallops. Look for browning of the scallops as an indicator of when its time to flip or remove them from the heat. Take care not to burn anything by adjusting your heat as needed. The second side of the scallops may not brown as much as the first side because the temperature in the pan will likely be a lower by the time you flip the scallops. Better that the scallops are not over cooked- just cooked through- rather than overcooked in an effort to completely brown the second side.

  1. Pat scallops dry with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper. 
  2. Sear seasoned scallops in a pan of olive oil over medium-high heat. As scallops brown on one side, add whole garlic cloves and fresh thyme sprigs to the pan. 
  3. With tongs, turn the scallops to brown on the opposite side, adding a hunk of butter and the capers. As the butter melts, spoon it over the scallops to infuse them with its flavor. 
  4. Once both sides have browned, transfer the scallops to a plate.  Return the pan to the flame and a little more butter and freshly squeezed lemon juice.  Swirl the pan and scrape the browned bits with a wooden spoon to incorporate and emulsify.  Turn off the flame and add freshly chopped parsley to the mixture.  
  5. Spoon the pan sauce over the reserved scallops.  Add another sprinkle of fresh parsley and an optional squeeze of lemon juice, serve, and enjoy.

Expert tips

  • Frozen can still be fresh.  Modern freezing techniques allow seafood to be flash frozen, locking in maximum freshness at the time of the catch or shortly after.  This does not mean that all frozen seafood will be the same quality but the options for excellent frozen seafood products have never been better. Price can often be an indicator of the quality of seafood. However, price is also dictated by other factors such as desirability and demand, the size of the scallop, the type of scallop (bay to sea), if it’s wild-caught or farm raised, and the origin of catch or farm. 
  • If you are cooking in a stainless steel or cast-iron pan be sure to adequately pre-heat your pan before adding any seafood proteins.  To tell if your cast iron or stainless steel pan is sufficiently hot enough to prevent food from sticking, test the temperature by adding a few drops of water into the pan over high heat. If the drops crackle and slide around, the pan is ready.
  • Leave your garlic whole when adding it to the pan.  This helps prevent it from burning.  
  • Add thyme in whole sprigs. This enables you to easily pick out the entire sprig with your tongs once it has given up its fragrance and flavor to the dish.  Feel free to leave it in the thyme when serving if you like the look.

Storage, Reheating, and Freezing Instructions

  • STORAGE -store in an airtight container for a day.  
  • REHEATING – may be warmed on the stovetop over a low-medium flame or in the oven at about 300 degrees for 10 minutes.  The key is to not re-cook your scallops.  
  • FREEZING – not recommended

A Genius Trick for Leftovers

If you have enough scallops and saucy mixture leftover, you can add it all to a medium-large pot with 4-8 cups of seafood stock and 1/2 to 3/4 cup of heavy cream (depending on how much leftover scallops you have), simmer for 10 minutes and presto: you have an amazing scallop chowder. Season with salt and pepper to taste.   

Abra’s Nutrition Tips!

FAQ

What should I Serve with Pan-Seared Scallops?

I love a hunk of crusty bread with soft butter for dredging into the leftover juices and pan sauce.  A crisp light salad of baby greens is a perfect counterpoint to the briny rich scallops. 

Dietary Modifications

  • Gluten-Free –
  • Vegetarian – 
  • Vegan – 
  • Low Fodmap
  • Whole 30 –
  • Paleo –
  • Keto –

More Recipes You Will Love

I can’t wait for you to try this! When you make it, snap a photo and tag me on Instagram @abrapappa or use the hashtag #abraskitchen so I can feature your photo! 

If you’ve tried this recipe, don’t forget to rate it and leave a comment below. I love to hear from people who’ve made my recipes!

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Pan Seared Scallops

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There's no better seafood treat than sweet, plump, fresh scallops, seared to buttery perfection. This easy recipe is perfect for a date night, special occasion, or a weekday indulgence. Golden seared scallops swim in a bath of garlic caper butter sauce finished in the pan with fresh thyme, parsley, and a hit of lemon juice to wake up all the flavors. 
Course Appetizer, entree
Cuisine American
Keyword Seafood
Prep Time 4 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings 2 servings
Calories 262kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 lb scallops
  • 2 tbsp butter Salted
  • 1 tbsp capers in brine
  • 1 tbsp parsley chopped
  • 3 sprigs thyme fresh
  • 2 tsp lemon juice freshly squezed
  • .5 tsp salt
  • .5 tsp black pepper

Instructions

  • Pat scallops dry on a paper towel-lined plate to remove excess moisture.  This important step is to help ensure that your scallops do not stick to the pan. This is especially important if you are cooking in a cast-iron pan or stainless steel pan. I will often use a non-stick pan when cooking seafood to avoid the dreaded seafood stick. 
  • In a pan over medium-high heat, add scallops flat side down along with 3 whole garlic cloves and 3 sprigs thyme. (I leave the garlic in larger pieces so it cooks slower and doesn't burn in the pan). As the first side of the scallops cooks to the perfect sear ( approx: 2-3 minutes), the garlic and thyme will flavor the oil.  
  • Flip the scallops and add 1 tbsp capers and 2 tablespoons of butter, cooking until the second side starts to brown. 
  • Transfer the cooked scallops to a plate and return the pan to the stovetop, adding 1-2 teaspoons of juice from freshly squeezed lemon wedges into the buttery mixture. Swirl the pan and stir with a wooden spoon to release any browned bits into the sauce while creating an emulsion. Cook over medium heat for 1-2 minutes and finish with a sprinkle of fresh chopped parsley.
  • Spoon sauce over the scallops and add an additional sprinkle of fresh parsley to garnish.  You may want an additional squeeze of fresh lemon upon serving based on personal preference.  The acidity in lemons varies so be sure to taste before doing so. 

Notes

  • If you are cooking in a stainless steel or cast-iron pan be sure to adequately pre-heat your pan before adding any seafood proteins.  To tell if your cast iron or stainless steel pan is sufficiently hot enough to prevent food from sticking, test the temperature by adding a few drops of water into the pan over high heat. If the drops crackle and slide around, the pan is ready.
  • Leave your garlic whole when adding it to the pan.  This helps prevent it from burning.  
  • Add thyme in who sprigs. This enables you to easily pick out the entire sprig with your tongs once it has given up its fragrance and flavor to the dish.  Feel free to leave it in the thyme when serving if you like the look. 

Nutrition

Calories: 262kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 28g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.5g | Cholesterol: 85mg | Sodium: 1673mg | Potassium: 502mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 0.2g | Vitamin A: 605IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 30mg | Iron: 1mg

The post Herby Pan Seared Scallops appeared first on Abra's Kitchen.



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