How to Cook Sea Scallops
Scallops are bivalves which mean they have two shells, like mussels, clams and oysters. The large abductor muscle opens and closes the two colorful, fan-shaped shells. The abductor is what is consumed. Unlike other bivalves, scallops can actually swim short distances.
Bay Scallops vs. Sea Scallops
There are two primary types of scallops: bay scallops and sea scallops. Bay scallops are small. It takes about 100 of them to make up a pound. They live in shallow waters close to bays and estuaries. Bay scallops have a flavor that many characterize as sweeter than sea scallops, but their small size make them more difficult to cook.
Sea scallops caught in deep water away from shore and are much larger than bay scallops. Snake River Farms sea scallops are sold eight per pound. They are ideal for searing and their large size makes for an attractive plate appearance.
How Can You Tell If a Scallop is Done?
Scallops are tender and juicy when cooked properly. Overcooking them results in a dry, chewy bite. Regardless of the method used to prepare them, the best results produce a scallop that has firm sides (top and bottom) with a center that is slightly opaque and translucent.
Temperature is an excellent way to determine if a scallop is done. The ideal target is 125°F at the center. Scallops will continue to cook when removed from high heat, for example when searing in a hot skillet. Instead of waiting for the temperature to reach 125°F, it’s best to remove them when it hits 120°F.
How to Sear Scallops
A fast and delicious way to prepare sea scallops is to sear them in a pan. Be sure to pat the scallops to remove excess moisture. This will help achieve a nice crisp sear.
Heat 2 teaspoons vegetable oil and 2 teaspoons butter in a skillet over medium high heat.
Place scallops in the hot pan and sear for 1 ½ to 2 minutes or until an even brown crust forms.
Flip them over and sear the other sides for another 1 ½ to 2 minutes.
Remove from the pan, lightly season with salt.
Top with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and serve.
How to Smoke Scallops
Smoking scallops enhances their natural sweetness with a kiss of flavor. They are an excellent appetizer or can be a main course all by themselves. Smoked scallops won’t have the deep brown sear, but will be tender and infused with a light smoke flavor.
Completely thaw frozen scallops and pat dry with a clean towel to pull off the surface moisture.
Heat smoker to 200°F
Coat scallops with olive oil, kosher salt and cracked black pepper.
Place scallops on smoker grill. Space them at least ½” apart so they don’t touch.
Smoke until the internal temperature reaches 125°F, about 30 minutes. The exterior will have a slightly brown color and the interior is still a bit translucent.
Remove from the smoker and season with lemon juice. Serve.
How to Cook Scallops on the Grill
Cooking scallops on the grill adds a nice level of flavor. We’re fans of charcoal, but a gas grill works well.
Heat grill to medium high, about 450°F.
Completely thaw the scallops and pat dry with a clean towel to remove surface moisture.
Toss scallops with a neutral vegetable oil to coat.
Place scallops on the hot grill and cook until golden brown sear marks form and they easily release from the grill, about 2 minutes.
Flip scallops and repeat on the raw side. The scallops should have firm sides with a center that is slightly opaque and translucent. Overcooking will result in tough, dry scallops
Remove from the grill, and season with kosher salt and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Add cracked black pepper, if desired.
Check Out These Scallop Recipes
Hot Honey Salt Block Scallops
Add a sweet and spicy component to the subtle flavor of sea scallops cooked on a salt block. The dish is rounded out with crisp scallions and a sprinkle of edible flower petals to create beautiful seafood dish.
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Scallop and Corn Tacos
Send your tastebuds traveling to Mexico City with this unique taco recipe. Pairing perfectly with corn, Snake River Farms sea scallops are packed with flavor and sized to perfection for an amazing bite.
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