Like the conch, mussels, clams, and squid, the scallop is one of over 50,000 known species of Mollusks. The scallop has two ridged shells, which are easily identifiable, in fact, it’s probably one of the most recognizable shells, but this is not a science class, so let’s get focused on cooking these delicious Mollusks up.
First off, a quick note about buying scallops, I always recommend buying the larger scallops or sea scallops. The smaller scallops are bay scallops and the sea scallops have a much better flavor.
Scallops are a little intimidating to cook, mostly because of their price tag, but they really are an easy thing to cook correctly on the stove top.
Thawing Frozen Scallops
If your scallops are frozen, the best way to thaw them is covered in the refrigerator for 24 hours. This would also be a good time to check your refrigerator temperature, which should be at 38 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Risky Microwave
I would avoid using the microwave to thaw them, however, if time is of the essence, you can place them in a microwave-safe dish and cover them with paper towel. Place the dish in the microwave and use the defrost setting on the microwave. If that setting isn’t available, set the power to 30%. Turn on the microwave for 30 seconds, then take the dish out and check them. You’ll want to be extremely careful to not cook the scallops, this will make them tough and rubbery. If they are still not defrosted, defrost them for an additional 30 seconds.
Under Cool Running Water
This method is better than the microwave method but secondary to the overnight refrigeration method. Place the scallops in a plastic zip tight bag and remove as much of the air as possible from the bag. Do not let the scallops come in direct contact with water. Place the bag in a bowl and place the bowl under cold running tap water for about 30 minutes. It should be noted that this isn’t a great use of water. It’s much better to plan ahead!
Prepare to Cook the Scallop
1 Remove the side muscle and the roe. The side muscle can be eaten, however, it will be very tough. The roe could also be eaten, however, it may be gritty, which is a big turn off. To remove either one, just pinch it with your thumb and first finger and pull it off the scallop.
2 Pat the scallops dry. If the scallops are wet, they will not brown correctly and does make them more difficult to cook.
3 Heat the pan with butter, avocado oil, or olive oil over mid-high heat. To test if the pan is hot enough for the scallops, sprinkle a few drops of water into the pan. If they roll around and evaporate on contact, then your pan is ready.
1. Season one side of the scallops while they are in the preparation plate or dish. You will season the other side once the scallops are in the pan. Be generous with the seasoning as you will lose much of the seasoning once it hits the oil in the pan.
2. Place the scallops, seasoned side down, in a clockwise direction start at the top (12 o’clock position), placing them along the outside edge of the pan. This will help in keeping track of cooking time, since you can start turning over the scallops at the same 12 o’clock position and not lose track.
The scallops should sizzle on contact with the pan. Do not crowd your pan, cook them in batches if required. Season the second side of the scallops.
3. Cook the scallops for 2 minutes, then turn them over. Do not move the scallops while they are cooking. If the scallop does not release from the pan, give it a few more seconds, it should release easily.
4. Cook the scallops for another 2 to 3 minutes on the second side. The scallops should be golden brown on both sides from the searing process. The scallop should also look opaque and firm to the touch, but slightly soft. Do not overcook the scallops, they will quickly become tough and chewy. Use a timer if you are easily distracted (like me!).
5. Serve the scallops immediately. Pro Tip! Always have everything ready to serve before cooking the scallops, this will give the best serving results as the scallops do not need to sit and wait for you to plate and ready the other items.
Quick note about Scallops Nutritional Information
Scallops are an excellent source of vitamin B12, which is important for cardiovascular health. Vitamin B12 can effectively neutralize homocysteine, which is a chemical that can damage blood vessel walls. It does this by converting the homocysteine into benign chemicals. Scallops are also a great source of magnesium and potassium, which can help lower and maintain normal blood pressure levels. Lastly, scallops are also a good source of zinc and omega-3 fatty acids.