Scallops cooked correctly are simply amazing and sure are beautiful on the plate. The perfect golden brown scallop that everyone wants to see on their plate. Scallops are naturally delicate and can overcook easily.
We have an article covering scallops in detail. Cooking the perfect scallop did not come easy for me, just like with most cooks. Promise you’ll learn a bunch in the article. You can get it here.
Have you ever cooked scallops before? Do you like them when they are perfectly golden brown>>? I sure do, but learning how to do it well didn’t come easy for me. After you watch the video below you will have the keys to golden brown scallops for LIFE..
Here’s my quick-fire list for cooking scallops to perfection
- Before you start cooking scallops make sure the scallops are very very dry. I suggest placing them on a paper towel with a paper towel on top till you’re ready to start cooking. This is the largest mistake cooks make when cooking scallops. If you try to cook them, and they’re not very dry, the scallops will only steam in the pan. Which results in no color on the scallops.
- Pay close attention to the heat level. Sadly, Chefs state to cook scallops with a screaming hot pan. They are very wrong with that statement that gets repeated often, flat wrong. Forget all about that falsely stated non-fact. Cooking scallops just like the photos in this article are accomplished by using med/high heat. If the pan was screaming hot the scallops would begin to caramelize extremely quickly resulting in two things. Overcooked scallops and burnt edges around the scallop. Scallops have a good amount of natural sugars in them and they will burn easily.
- The kind of fat/oil you cook scallops in is of making it or break it importance. Oils/Fats with low smoke points cause discolorations, also the Oil/Fat oxidize which is the oil breaking down. This means the Oil/Fat molecular makeup has changed which results in a bad or bitter taste.
- Suggested Oil = Peanut Oil (Very High Smoke Point) 440
- Suggested Fat = Clarified Butter ( Smoke Point Around 400 and Up Depending on the Butter Quality) Normal butter (350)
- Do Not Add any more than the needed amount of Oil/Fat to the pan. If you do, your shallow frying and no longer searing scallops.
- Type of pan to cook scallops in. The best is Cast Iron. Non-Stick pans are so inconsistent I would be leading you down a road of failure if I suggested ever cooking scallops with a non-stick pan. Cast Iron skillets are very low cost. I’ll add a suggested purchase from my affiliate Amazon account below.
Watch Our How-To Video:
How To Cook Scallops Perfectly
- Cast Iron Skillet
- 12 scallops Large Sea Scallops (colossal scallops) dry-packed scallops brown better than wet packed
- 4 tbsp Clarified Butter Has higher smoker point, reduces chance of burning
- 4 tbsp Olive Oil Mixing butter and olive helps improve the taste and smoke point level
- 1 ½ tsp Sea Salt season to taste
Quick Marinate Recipe: Optional:
- ¼ tsp Nutmeg I love using fresh for scallops
- 2 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
- 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
- ¼ Tbsp Creole Seasoning
Cleaning & Prep of Scallops
- On the sides of scallops, they have a small abductor muscle the runs up the side of the scallop. It peels off very easily. Almost too easy to the point you could rip the scallop, so be careful. The abductor's muscle is much chewier than the scallop.
- The recipe is for 4 people, each person getting 3 large scallops plated. Add more if you like. Chef Tip: The reason for 3 each is first, cost control, and second professional plating is done using odds number plating. The brain looks for even numbers, so when serving odd numbers the brain interprets the plating as nicer, more visually appealing.
The Marinade Process
- You will want to do this about 10 minutes before cooking. The scallops only need a short time in the marinade. Do not marinade the scallop longer than 10 minutes or risk cooking them from the apple cider vinegar. Plus, it will change the texture destroying the scallops.
- After 10 minutes in the marinade, you need to move them over to a dry paper towel and allow the scallops to dry. You may need to change the paper towel a few times to get them very dry.
- Scallop Browning TIP: Wet scallops will never become golden brown. The moisture on the scallop will result in steamed scallops.
Cooking The Scallops
- Using a large skillet (Do not crowd the pan with scallops or risk steaming them, which means no golden brown scallops). I like cast iron due to the even distribution of heat. Really helps with the browning.Over medium-high heat. Do not use high heat or risk burning the scallops and oil.Once the pan is hot add in olive oil or peanut oil. Personal choice.Allow the oil to come to temperatureAdd the Dry Scallops to the pan and cook for 3 minutes. Afterward, add in a few large dabs of butter. Using a large spoon, spoon the melted butter over the tops of the scallops. This will set in a very nice brown color.
- I like to turn off the heat at this point and flip/turn the scallops and cook on the other side. The scallops will not take as long on side 2 to cook. About half the time. You can always poke the scallops with your finger to check doneness.
How To Tell The Scallops Are Cooked?
- Cooked scallops are still soft in texture. The firmness will equal twice that of the raw uncooked scallop. The cook time on scallops is right about 4 to 5 minutes.
- The scallops need to be very dry to turn golden brown
- Yes, you can use bay scallops, which are very small scallops that cook in about 60-70 seconds
- Can you eat the abductor muscle? Yes, the only difference is the texture. They taste just like a scallop.
- Can you eat scallops raw? Yes, the style of recipe is called Crudo. Thinly sliced scallop plated in a sauce like Ponzu or vinaigrette.
- Can you reheat cooked scallops? Yes, it is safe to do so, but the texture will suffer. If you must reheat scallops do so by steaming them in warm+ water.