jump to recipe now

How to Cook Perfect Scallops – Tips For Golden Brown Scallops

how to cook perfect scallops can be tricky for sure. High heat? Low heat? How long do we cook them to make perfect scallops? No problem, we have you covered. Scallops are one of my personal favorite mollusks from the ocean. Scallops can be prepared and eaten a multitude of different ways using many techniques making them very versatile. I remember in culinary school the day we cooked scallops like it was yesterday.

 

how to cook scallops

 

Chef gave us the overview of what to do and what to consider when cooking scallops. Our Chef then cooked a few scallops during a demonstration. He used high heat and clarified butter and cooked them very quickly. The result was less than what I was expecting.

Allow me to explain my journey learning to how to cook perfect scallops. But first a few cool facts about scallops. 🙂

Full Definition of Scallops

 

Scal·lop / ˈskäləp; ˈskal-/

• n. 1. an edible bivalve mollusk (family Pectinidae) with a ribbed fan-shaped shell. Scallops swim by rapidly opening and closing the shell valves.

∎  a small pan or dish shaped like a scallop shell and used for baking or serving food.2. (usu. scallops) each of a series of convex rounded projections forming an ornamental edging cut in material or worked in lace or knitting.3. another term for escalope.

• v. (-loped , -lop·ing ) 1. [tr.] [usu. as adj.] (scalloped) ornament (an edge or material) with scallops: a scalloped neckline.2. [intr.] [usu. as n.] (scalloping) gather or dredge for scallops.3. [tr.] bake with milk or a sauce: [as adj.] (scalloped) scalloped potatoes.DERIVATIVES:scal·lop·er n

 

scallops in the shell

 

Scallops are one of the most popular seafood items due to their unique appealing texture and succulent flavors.

U.S. fishermen catch between 50 and 60 million pounds of scallops annually, and it is one of the nation’s most valuable fisheries.

Scallops have been among the top ten seafood items consumed in the U.S. for decades, and Americans eat on average between a 1/4 to a 1/3 of a pound of scallops per year.

Types of Scallop and Where Scallops Come From

There are three main types of scallops harvested in North America including the calico scallop, colossal sea scallop, and the bay scallop.  Several types of wild and farm-raised scallops are also imported from Japan, China, and Europe. A description of common varieties of scallops, harvest locations, and their general size categories are provided in the Table below.

Common NameScientific NameSize CategoryHarvest Locations
Sea ScallopPlacopecten magellanicusLargeNortheast U.S. & Canada
Weathervane ScallopPatinopecten caurinusLargeAlaska
Japanese ScallopPatinopecten yessoensisLargeJapan
Bay ScallopArgopecten irradiansMediumMA to NC
Pink Scallop

Spiny Scallop

Chlamys rubia     

Chalmys hastate

Medium to SmallAK to CA
Calico ScallopArgopecten gibbusSmallNC to FL
Queen ScallopChlamys opercularisSmallEurope
Icelandic ScallopChalmys islandicaSmallIceland, Europe & Canada

The scallop average cost in the year 2017 range from $20 to $30 a pound depending on where you are from. Scallops are always better-priced closer to port/fishing communities. With quality food items usually comes cost and scallops are what I would call an occasion protein, birthdays, anniversaries all the way up to weddings and eating out at nice restaurants.

Back to the Lessons Learned to Cook Perfect Scallops

Back to the culinary school classroom, Chef finished the demonstration cooking scallops and had all of us eat some to test the doneness and texture. I’d like to point out my Le Cordon Bleu chefs were all great, yet this demonstration didn’t sit well with me. I thought to myself there has to be a better way to cook scallops. The Chef’s scallops were cooked using high heat a quick, which results in a cooked scallop with a little bit of color/browning of the scallop. There isn’t anything wrong with this technique and is actually a pretty normal way of cooking scallops. I personally use this technique at times. Back in school, I had a bigger picture in my head of what perfect scallops should be, all golden brown, like the ones you would see in a magazine or on television. I had to get to the bottom of this, so I set out down the hall to talk with some of my other Chef instructors. I headed straight to my favorite chef, Chef Porter. I explained my issue and she told me a few tips I’d like to share with you today.

Here is a photo from that very day at school from my experiment that followed. Scallops have a good amount of natural sugars in them. This is the key to perfect scallops. The cooking process needs medium to medium-high heat to allow the sugars in the scallops to caramelize. In the photo below, I took the experiment to an extreme level. I used super low heat. Given this isn’t a normal way one would cook scallops I had to try. The results were pretty cool, take a look below.

scallop-culinary-school

 

Low and slow heat gave the impression of a perfect scallop. Yet the texture wasn’t what I was looking for, the scallop had a rough texture on top.  I’ll admit I was a little bit proud of myself after cooking this scallop due to that fact I didn’t get the answer I was looking for from my Chefs.

Chef Porter stated that cooking scallops on a lower heat helped with the browning. Thanks Chef!

The photo below is from a few years ago when I had company over for dinner. The scallops were cooked with the method I use every time now.

Allow me to share the technique of the Perfect Scallops every time

How to Cook Perfect Scallops

 

scallops

 

How to Cook Perfect Scallops

  • Use a non-stick skillet
  • Medium heat is key
  • Add oil to pan, I like using peanut oil since it has a high smoke point and won’t burn
  • Add enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan, up the side of the scallop by 1/10 minimum ( Think Frying )
  • Use paper towels to dry the scallops as best as you can. Wet scallops equals NO color/or browning ( They will only steam )
  • Scallops cook in about 5-7 minutes, remember the scallops will continue cooking after you remove them from the heat ( Serve them quickly )
  • In the last 60-to-90 seconds add butter ( clarified works best ) this really browns the scallops for great presentation

 

scallops

Tip: The photo above still looks nice as an example of scallops that were not completely dry when they hit the pan. Remember to dry the scallops right before you add them to the pan. When they sit out waiting to be cooked they sweat a little releasing their natural waters.

I hope you enjoyed this article on cooking scallops. Don’t ever be discouraged, even some restaurant chefs cannot cook a scallop and make it look nice on the plate. I would love for you to post your own photos on our facebook page wall of your success in the kitchen with scallops or any other recipes on Butter-n-Thyme you chose to try.

Visit Butter-n-Thyme’s Facebook Page and Follow Us

facebook follow

 

 

0 from 0 votes
how to cook perfect scallops
Perfectly Cooked Scallops Every Time
Cook Time
5 mins
Total Time
5 mins
 
Technique to Perfectly Cooked Scallops
Course: Seafood
Author: Steven Pennington
Ingredients
  • Colossal Sea Scallops The Biggest You Can Find
Marinade
  • 4 Tbsp of Good Olive Oil
  • 1/4 Tsp of Fresh Grated Nutmeg
  • 1/2 Tsp of Sea Salt
  • 1/4 Tsp White Pepper Don't use Black Pepper - Presentation will be spotty
  • Pinch of Cayenne Pepper
Instructions
  1. Use a non-stick skillet
  2. Medium heat is key
  3. Add oil to pan, I like using peanut oil since it has a high smoke point
  4. Add enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan, up the side of the scallop by 1/10 minium ( Think Frying )
  5. Use paper towels to dry the scallops as best as you can. Wet scallops equals NO color/or browning
  6. Scallops cook in about 4-5 minutes, remember the scallops will continue cooking after you remove them from the heat
  7. In the last 60-to-90 seconds add butter ( clarified works best ) this really browns the scallops for great presentation

 

Red Quinoa Crab Salad w/ Avocado Crema

crab quinoa salad

How To Clean Crab Fine Dining Style

how to clean crab

Southern Fried Oysters

southern fried oysters

Chef Steven Pennington

Chef Steven Pennington

Content Creator

Le Cordon Bleu Chef sharing food adventures from around the world with a style of cooking rooted in southwestern flavors using French culinary technique.

how to cook bronzed salmon

how to make perfect scallops

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This