Pan Seared Scallops with Butter Herb Sauce

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In my last post I made fish tacos with halibut that I took from my dad’s freezer.  On that same trip to Seattle I also snagged a bag of Orca Bay Seafoods’ frozen scallops.  I have always been wishy-washy about whether I like scallops or not.  Sometimes I am not sure if I can handle their distinct texture.  Having never cooked scallops, I was especially nervous that I would over or under cook the scallops, making the texture even more “off.”  However, I after cooking them perfectly and smothering them in butter–my favorite–I can confidently say I am a scallops enthusiast.  This is good considering I have a huge bag of them tucked away in my freezer.  This recipe was tweaked from Fine Cooking magazine.  I cooked pasta and asparagus and then tossed the noodes in the pan sauce and topped with the scallops.

Serves 2-3

For the scallops:

  • 1 lb. dry large sea scallops
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

For the sauce:

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into six pieces
  • 2 tablespoons finely diced shallot
  • 1/4 cup dry white vermouth, dry white wine or sherry
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped mixed fresh herbs, such as flat-leaf parsley and chives
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
  • Salt and pepper
  • Extra lemon for serving (optional)

Have all of the ingredients chopped and ready before you begin cooking the scallops.  Then, remove the tough abductor muscle from the side of each scallop (some scallops are sold with this already removed).  If you feel any grit on the scallops, rinse them in cold water.  Pat the scallops dry with a paper towel; excess water prevents them from browning.  

Heat a 10 or 12 inch skillet over medium-high heat for 1 to 2 minutes.  Add the oil and butter and heat until quite hot.  Place the scallops in the pan in a single layer.  Season with salt and pepper and allow them to brown in the pan undisturbed for 2-4 minutes.  Turn the scallops over and season this side with salt and pepper as well.  Cook on this side for another 2-4 minutes until the scallops are almost firm to touch.  I found that they seemed like they were going to be underdone, but by the time the sauce was done cooking they were perfect.  Take the pan off the heat, transfer scallops to a plate, and set them aside.  Let the pan cool for a minute before you make the sauce.  

Return the pan to medium heat.  Add a piece of butter (1/2 tablespoon) and add the shallots and garlic until they begin to soften.  Add the vermouth, wine or sherry and simmer until reduced by half, another 1 to 2 minutes.  Add the herbs and lemon zest.  Reduce the heat to low, add the remaining butter, and whisk constantly until the butter melts into the sauce.  Return the scallops and any accumulated juices back to the pan with the sauce.  Gently toss the scallops in the sauce until warmed through and season as needed with salt and pepper.  Serve with lemon wedges to squeeze over the scallops.  

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