How to sear scallops
Alot of people ask these questions when cooking scallops: “Why aren’t they searing?”/ “Why do they look like they’re steaming?”/ “Why are they shrinking?!”
My answer to perfectly seared scallops: Brine and Dry.
You don’t have to buy super expensive ones like $40 – $50 for a box of Hokkaido scallops but if you’re feeling rich or are rich then please go ahead. I either get mine from Giant– I forgot the brand– at $17 (?) for 12, or from Song Fish. I don’t really know how to choose scallops, or how to differentiate between “wet” and “dry” scallops just by looking at them. Look at the ingredients list. “Wet” scallops are usually treated with phosphate solution, a preservative which prolongs shelf life (duh) and makes the scallops heavier and larger. If not prepared properly, all the added water evaporates during cooking, leaving your scallops the size of clams.
“Dry” scallops are not treated with this chemical solution and do not absorb unnecessary water. As a result, they have a shorter shelf life but the taste is sweeter and more natural. And yes, they are far more expensive than “wet” scallops.
I buy “wet” scallops because I am “budgetpantry”. The secret to getting them to sear the way they do in these pictures is to brine them with a lemon juice and salt solution, then dry, dry, dry them before cooking in a hot oiled pan. You’ll be tempted to flip them after three seconds to “check” how they’re doing. Don’t do it. Scallops are like ex-boyfriends. There is no need to check how they’re doing.
I kinda regret not taking step-by-step pictures for you, but these instructions are quite easy to understand. I go by this rule: If you think you’ve dried them enough, dry them somemore. You’ll be surprised how much water really comes out on those kitchen papers. I also don’t use butter because I like them cleaner.
And here’s how to do it.
What I used:
12 frozen scallops, defrosted, obviously
Juice from 2 medium lemons, about 5-6 tablespoons
250ml warm water
750ml iced water
3 tablespoons salt
3 tablespoons olive oil or canola oil
Some coarse black pepper
1. In a large bowl or measuring jug, combine lemon juice, salt, warm water and stir til salt is dissolved. Add the iced water and scallops. Leave it in the refrigerator for half an hour.
2. Pour away the brining liquid. Rinse the scallops under tap water and pat dry with kitchen paper. Now we want to dry them til they are reallyyyy dry.
3. Lay a towel on a flat surface, then lay 3-4 pieces of kitchen paper on top of the towel. Lay the scallops in a single layer on the kitchen paper and top with another 3-4 pieces of kitchen paper. Press the top layer of kitchen paper lightly against the scallops. Leave them alone for 20 minutes.
4. Change the kitchen papers. Repeat step 3. By then most of the water would have been released. If you still see water coming out, repeat one more time. Sprinkle some black pepper on the scallops.
5. In a very hot frying pan, heat up 1 tablespoon olive oil. We are going to cook these in batches to avoid the “steaming” effect which happens because of overcrowding. I cook 4 scallops per batch on medium high heat.
6. When the oil is hot, add the scallops carefully, leaving space between each one. DON’T TOUCH THEM. Let them cook for 3.5 to 4 minutes undisturbed, then flip to cook on the other side for a little less time than the first. Continue til all the batches are done.
7. Serve immediately with your choice of sauce and greens. I had some left over packet hollandaise sauce from the other day, but you could also just squeeze some lemon juice over and they’ll be just as delicious.
Hi, your scallops looks great! One question, do you have any idea where to buy “dry” scallops in sg?