How to purchase, prepare and cook perfect scallops!
January 20, 2015
We love scallops at Mr. P's and we sell a lot of these delicacies of the sea. Chef
Steve prepares them in a variety of ways, from the perfect pan-sear to golden fried and you can't go wrong with an entire plate of scallops or even just a few atop your prime rib! But if you've ever tried to cook them at home or watched almost any cooking competition on television, you know that they're rather easy to mess up. Simply over-cooking them a few extra seconds will result in touch, chewy scallops. On the flip side, with just a little know-how, you'll be a scallop cooking pro!
Because scallops are more perishable than most seafood, they are typically shucked right on the boat as they're caught. They are then either wet-packed or dry-packed and it makes a huge difference in how they cook and taste. Wet-packed scallops are sealed in a mixture of water and sodium tripolyphosphate (STPP), a preservative that is used to make seafood appear firmer, smoother and glossier. It typically causes the scallop to absorb more water, thus causing excess weight (and higher cost if paying per pound)...and then they shrink up during cooking as the water oozes out.
Mr. P's only purchases dry-packed scallops (and so can you, just ask your fishmonger), which means that the scallops are shucked, packed and shipped in their own juices, on ice and with no chemical additives. Already sounds tastier, right?!
You also want to look for scallops that are firm to the touch with a slightly moist flesh. They should not be dry, nor dripping wet. We do not recommend purchasing frozen scallops because it does something unappealing to the texture when they are cooked. Last and perhaps most importantly, the scallops should barely smell, except for a slight hint of fresh, ocean water.
PREPARING THE SCALLOPS
Preparing scallops is the easy part! All you need to do is rinse them under cool, running water and pat dry with a paper towel. If they aren't patted dry, they not brown effectively. If the side muscle is still attached, remove those prior to cooking.
COOKING THE SCALLOPS
There are a number of ways to cook scallops: pan-searing, grilling, poaching, frying or broiling. To get you started, we've listed a few important scallop cooking tips and a simple recipe to follow:
Make sure scallops are dry
Make sure pan is hot and that oil coats the bottom (but isn't swimming)
Do not touch the scallop when it is cooking (not even to check it, just leave it be)
Pan should be large enough that scallops don't touch (this will cause them to steam)
Plan to serve the scallops as soon as they are taken out of the pan
1 pound of dry-packed sea scallops, patted dry
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
Freshly ground sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
Lemon for squeezing, optional
Add the butter and oil to a large saute pan over high heat.
Generously salt and pepper the scallops. Once butter/oil combo begins to smoke, add the scallops (remember - do not let them touch). Sear scallops for 1 1/2 minutes on each side. The scallops should have a nice golden crust on each side and a translucent center. Enjoy!!
If you mess up, it's okay, we'll have some waiting at Mr. P's!