Master Class: Sear to New Heights

Just a little technique can make the difference between good scallops and great ones. Try these tips to get a golden-brown crust and tender centers every time.
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scallops bed of mixed greens fennel EVOO

For a simple supper, nestle warm scallops in a bed of mixed greens and thinly sliced fennel tossed with EVOO, lemon juice, and some salt and pepper.

Buy Dry

Some scallops are pumped with salted water to extend their shelf life and boost their weight. Look for “dry” or “dry-packed” scallops, which don’t have added moisture. If using frozen, thaw them in the fridge, then dry with paper towels. The drier the scallops, the better the sear will be.

Season First

About 15 minutes before cooking, sprinkle the scallops with salt to help draw out moisture. Right before searing, pat them dry again. Want some extra insurance? Lightly dip the flat sides in just a bit of flour to absorb every last bit of brine.

Heat Things Up

For a bold, golden sear, you’ve gotta have strong, steady heat. Use a stainless steel or cast-iron skillet. Heat over medium-high to high heat and coat the pan thinly with a vegetable oil, such as canola, that won’t burn at high temps. Once it’s hot, drop the scallops in.

Don't Overdo It

Make like a restaurant chef and pull scallops from the pan the moment the edges are seared to a deep bronze. At that point the tender centers should still be medium-rare—and packed with sea-salty flavors. Serve immediately. 

This article originally appeared in our Winter/Spring 2021 issue. Get the magazine here.