This is a favorite dish at our home!
But Scallops are pricey, so we usually splurge on them as an appetizer, sometimes served simply as shown at left, sometimes atop a small hill of mashed potatoes and turnips (boiled together, 1:1 ratio) or mashed sweet potatoes.
When shopping, be aware that you’re likely to find two types of scallops (aside from size), only one of which I recommend! Ask your fish monger for “dry” scallops, which are free of preservatives and the most unpleasant tin-like taste you’ll find in the cheaper version.
And yes, the “dry” scallops are FAR pricier, but the only scallps worth the money. Dry Scallops are also easier to sear and that’s important – the beautiful brown exterior is a taste treat!
2 “Dry” Scallops per person
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 stick unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
Fresh herbs, chopped (any combination of basil, tarragon, parsley)
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
(Optional: mashed potatoes/turnips or mashed sweet potatoes to serve as a base)
Over med-high heat, warm a pan large enough to hold all of the scallops at once – you don’t want to do this in batches if you can avoid it as they should be eaten within minutes of plating.
Season the scallops with the salt and pepper (to taste). Heat the olive oil for 30 seconds or so, then place the scallops in the pan and brown for about 3 minutes. Turn the scallops and immediately add the butter and herbs. Spoon the butter/herbs over the scallops until the scallops are cooked through and the butter begins to brown (after the foam subsides) and to smell nutty.
Add the lemon juice, swirl to blend, and plate the scallops. Spoon the butter evenly across the finished plates and serve immediately.
Pairing wine with seared scallops can be a challenge. Scallops combine elements of sweetness and brineniness that fight many of the usual wine choices. If paired poorly, the wine finishes with a most unpleasant, lingering fishiness.
So look for a rich, off-dry wine with some brine notes as well as herbaciousness. Really? Yes! Look to the white wines of the Western Loire Valley, or the coastal whites from Italy or Spain. I avoid dry Rosé with scallops, as they rarely work well – a rarity for these most food-friendly wines. But Riesling, one of the other “World’s most food-friendly wines” works nicely, as does an off-dry sparkling wine. Shop white wines here, and Sparkling wines here.