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cooking the perfect scallop

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 

Hi folks,

 

I live on the West Coast of Scotland and have access to the freshest, largest, freedived (by me) king scallops you'll ever get.

 

My problem is this: I don't actually know how to cook the perfect scallop and having never paid to have scallops served to me by a professional chef or in a top eatery, I have nothing to compare with. From all the tips and info I've found on the internet, either the scallop is over rated or I'm missing the best way of cooking.

 

I've tried the hot pan to caramelise the scallop, various temperatures, cooked in oil, butter, but still don't feel that I get the best result. However, perhaps the visual on TV with chefs, may not match up to the taste.

 

So, as you see, I have nothing really to compare my own cooking with. My own preference is to eat the scallop raw, so sweet, taste of the sea, slightly salty and creamy taste. It almost seems a shame to cook it. I see the TV chefs with really hot pans, 1 min either side, I just feel that makes the scallop rubbery (or is it supposed to be rubbery)?

 

Here's my questions to you chefs out there is: what exactly is the prefectly cooked scallop?

1. What does it look like

2. What is the texture?

3 What temperature is best to cook the scallop

4. Oil or butter

5. What is the taste

 

I love the crispy brown caramelised look, but the flesh seems too tough. If I cook it slower in less heat, I can almost get it melt in the mouth (rawish) but miss the 'visual' of the caramelised surface.

 

I'd love to hear some comments on cooking the perfect scallop and the different opinions and feedback.

 

cheers folks   

 

You'll see the size of my scallops in my hand in the pic, sometimes I'm amazed myself at the sheer weight of abductor musclescallop.JPG.

post #2 of 27

Hiya!

Do a google for Nick Nairn...  I've taken a couple of his courses on shellfish.  Scallops that size?  He suggested that you slice it into two thick 'fillets'.   Caramelise in a hot pan and then just serve with a little lemon juice.  AMAZING!

post #3 of 27

Amazing looking scallops!...I can almost taste them from here....

Ishbel is correct, slice those big ones in two, across their grain. Hot pan, bit of olive oil scallops lightly seasoned with s&p, sear until nice color, turn add a bit of butter and baste......do not over cook.   a good medium rare is perfect, serve immediately!

 

post #4 of 27

You're right, raw is best when you have an amazing piece of seafood like that.  Why not look into recipes where you can utilize them raw, such as scallop sashimi?  I'm sure there are lots of preparations for that I just don't know any to share with you.

 

I agree with above posters who say to slice it in to 2 filets across the grain.  It sounds like you're doing everything right - hot pan, one minute on each side, you should have the perfect scallop.  But the secret is what you do it before you put it in the pan :)  You must make sure the scallop is bone dry!  Let it rest on paper towel before seasoning it.  This will make a big difference in achieving that caramelized texture you covet.  One thing I like to do is to lightly score in a crosshatch on the top of the scallop, it makes it gorgeous.

 

Oil, butter, or bacon fat, it doesn't matter what you cook it in.  If you do use butter try to add a bit of oil in the pan as well so that it doesn't burn.  Oh and please do post another pic of your cooked product, it's lovely!

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #5 of 27

 

Those are amazing scallops! 

This is the way I generally make scallops:

Depending on your preference, raw, rare, medium rare, medium, etc., sous vide cooking will guarantee 100% the exact degree of done-ness without fail every time.

 

Bacon is a perfect pairing of flavor to scallops; unfortunately the cooking time required for the two is at the opposite extremes. Therefore I cook them separate.

 

I bake the bacon crispy separate and use the bacon fat to caramelize the sous vided scallops on a smoking hot (yes, turn off the smoke alarm first) cast iron skillet.

 

dcarch

scallopbacon.jpg

 

bakedscallops-Copy.jpg

 

bakedscallops5-1.jpg

post #6 of 27

When seasoning your scallops try a light dusting of curry powder, it really brings out their flavour.

 

post #7 of 27

I know that a lot of restaurants here are serving scallops with black pudding.  Personally, I think it overpowers the fresh taste of the sea.

 

I think the west coast has been so blessed with wonderful shellfish.  There's a place on the harbour at Mallaig - nothing more than a small workmen's cafe type of place, which serves THE best seared scallops.  Nothing added, just beautifully cooked!

post #8 of 27

already said. fresh enough to eat raw. So if you insist on cooking it, caramelize them and serve them with a mild condiment and that's it.  I like to serve them in the shell, like above, with a stew of tomatoes, onions, shallots, garlic and thyme.  Make your stew first. Portion it out into the shells and keep hot in a low oven while you sear off your scallops.  

 

 

Here's a recipe i'm yet to try, but it does have me intrigued. http://www.italianfoodforever.com/iff2008/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=234:porcinidustedseascallops&catid=81:antipastiseafood&Itemid=65

 

They have ground up dried wild mushrooms and dusted their scallops with it, and basically served it with a  bruschetta.


Edited by pcieluck - 7/21/11 at 12:41am
post #9 of 27

There are scallops and then there are scallops . I use 5 to the pound  diver scallops. Hot pan quick saute. served still  translucent inside.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #10 of 27

my...what big..uh..uh...scallops you have!....although this may be the heretic view, i would not cut them in half. that would be tantamount to cutting an 8 oz filet in half in order for it to cook faster. may work, but you miss all the 'bigness'. what a treat to eat a 'sea creature in its original form!! two things i think are better done in a hot pan rather than on the grill...shrimp and scallops. not sure why, but it seems to me that grilling toughens them...atleast mine come out that way....so i saute mine...flour dredge then a good dusting of 5 spice powder...great smell when it hits the pan. hot pan, hot oil..saute til browned on first side, turn over, brown on other side. watch the sides of your scallops. take them off the heat when the sides begin to turn opaque. i squeeze the sides as well with my fingers, but you can use tongs if  you prefer...they should be firm but giving. you want to take them off the heat just as they lose their translucencyif you have to err on the side of doneness, err on undercooked......it may take a bit longer with those monsters, but be patient and whatever you do ...do not overcook! oh, also, don't wash your scallops beforehand as they will absorb moisture...just pull off the seaweed and small white tab on the side where the scallop is attached to the shell. it doesn't bother me and i rather like the chewiness when its cooked,but you may not...you can decide that next time.. my favorite way to serve them is to puddle a mango chile cream sauce on a plate, top with scallops and nap with an asain style pesto(ginger, sweet thai chili, spinach etc.) sometimes i make a jalapeno saffron sauce as well.....you could also put them in a hot fish stock with coconut and cream and make a chowder...or in the oven with garlic, butter, white wine, s&p....lemon squeeze and parsley when served......or, the easiest thing for you to do is to send them to me!....hope this helps...

joey

food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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post #11 of 27

BDL, i 'd be interested in your comments here...would you, could you care to....you two have the same sized paws! since you're the grillmeister around these parts, i'd like to learn how to grill scallops..and how you would grill these scallops...just don't think you can beat wood for grilling or oven cooking..if i could i would have one of those Mugnaini italian style wood oven...outdoors.....don't go getting any more ideas for your backyard though!...also, what about smoke curing scallops? cold smoking, hot smoking...not sure which is the better choice, as i don't know much about either method...only that one is not really cooked, only smoked(cold) and takes a long time and the other is actually cooked through....or something like that...think it would be  pretty darn tasty....

joey

food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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post #12 of 27

Thanks for asking Joey.  I'm tickled. 

 

I've never smoked scallops.  Hard to find the right size papers, hard to keep them lit, and you don't catch much of a buzz anyway.  Wait.  I meant that smoke overwhelms their delicate taste.  Yep.  That's it.

 

The trick to grilling scallops is the same one for searing them.  Heat management.  You want the temp high enough to "caramelize" the outside, but not so high as to make the outside rubbery and leave the inside raw.  It was you, I think, you mentioned bisecting them horizontally, which amounts to pretty much the same thing in that it allows you to use a lot of heat for a short time. 

 

The OP's problem was always heat management -- either using too much or too little, and never quite catching it right.  For home cooks, it's probably best to use one setting for almost all searing -- medium high -- and manage the rest through time.  The best strategy for the OP could be to lower the heat slightly, cook just long enough to get some color on the top, and rest the scallops long enough to coast into "done" (which in the case of a scallop means a streak of translucent in the middle); but more likely is make them thinner and a lot less technical.  Speaking of technique, it's very important to touch test the scallops through their cooking period.  Respective degrees of toughness and doneness should never come as a surprise.  You already know that, I'm just saying it for everyone else's benefit.

 

I do like to grill scallops.  Gas is good, briquettes are better, lump is better still, and a live wood fire is MUCH better.  For the home cook who does a lot of grilling, it may be worthwhile to get an inexpensive charcoal grill just for those things -- like seafood -- which do so much better over coals.  A good hibachi is a great choice. 

 

The rule for temp on grilling seafood, is the thinner the fish the hotter the heat.   Again, you want to stop at slightly undercooked and coast into the desired state of doneness.  So catch a little char and remove.

 

You want both your grill very clean, well lubricated, and appropriately hot.  The scallops should also be well oiled, and because they're usually relatively thin, an appropriately hot fire is pretty darn hot -- no cooler than a "four count."  Heat for really big scallops is trickier -- five or six count would be more lie it. 

 

I like to season very simply.  First, scallops are inherently lovely and don't need much help; and second, the taste of the fire itself is about as perfect as it gets.  Dip the scallops in melted butter or olive oil, season conservatively with salt, pepper and paprika, grill immediately. 

 

If you must sauce, be very simple with nothing more complicated than a sauce persel (parsley, butter, white wine, garlic, (optional) worcestershire). 

 

BDL

post #13 of 27

     Hi,

I have worked some really high end restaurants. I really prefer to pan sear them but some really nice ways to serve a scallop like that would be "scallop ceviche" which is marinated inthe raw stage with citrus or lemon juice or my favorite is " Scallop Escabeche" which is pan seared quickly then marinated in citrus, garlic, olive oil, tomatoes other seafood compliments each dish very well.

 

Good Luck

Dominick Bersani

post #14 of 27

Make sure you remove the muscle on the scallop in particular the large ones . If you leave on in the cooking the scallop will shrivill up and the muscle is so tough that it is inedible. Never cut a scallop in particular the large diver type. I have had some commercially  smoked scallops and shrimp, they were delicious. but they do ever so slightly overpower the sweetness of the scallop

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #15 of 27

So listen, you've gotten a lot of good advice on scallops here. 

 

If you want my .02 cents...

 

The two most important things when cooking beautiful scallops is to 

1) Not overcook them

2) Be subtle

 

I've never understood the bacon wrapped scallop thing. All you taste is the bacon. You get some texture from the scallop, but why take something that is sweet, succulent and gorgeous on its own and wrap it with smoke and fat? 

 

I agree that bacon is a great flavoring, but a little goes a long way (subtle). If you are going to use bacon, be very sparing...like a flavoring in a corn, bacon, and mushroom ragout or something.  Make sure it compliments the scallops and doesn't overwhelm. I would also stay away from things like mango chili cream sauces with asian pesto type things. Nothing wrong with it, to me though, thats not what you should do with fresh, personally-hand-dived scallops. Also, make sure that you don't spend 20 minutes plating your scallops and taking pictures so that they go cold. 

 

Cooking wise, a hot pan, a little oil, and a good sear go a long way. Season well, but not too aggressively like you would a large steak (I would stay away from pepper in this case), and sear in a pan. Use more oil than you think you might need...certainly not enough to pan fry, but a nice coating on the pan. Once nicely browned, flip, and cook for a bit longer. Without taking the scallops out of the pan, drain off the excess fat (tilt the pan, hold back the scallops with a spatula) and then put in a couple of knobs of whole butter. Some whole sprigs of fresh thyme might be nice too. Gently swirl the scallops in the butter, but try not to get any of the butter on the actual top of the scallop, as it can "baste" off the color. They should be quite tender still. Translucent in the middle...do not overcook. If they are tough/rubbery you've overdone it. Try for like...120-125F. I disagree with durangojo..if they've lost their translucency they are overcooked. You want them to be translucent in the middle still. Like, rare (not raw) but rare. It takes some finesse. 

 

Anyways, remove to a paper towel, then plate as desired. 

 

Seriously dude, you've got quite a delicacy there. Good luck with cooking them...let us know how it goes.

 

 

 

 

post #16 of 27
Thread Starter 

Wow folks,

 

What can I say, except a personal thank you to each and every one who has replied and contributed to my topic. I will take on board everyones comments and over the next few months, try and go through the ideas and see how things go.

 

The size of my scallops is down to the fact that I have done a lot of swimming around the shoreline, away from the scallop divers and dredgers, so the pockets of scallops I find have been down there for a long time and had enough chance to grow big.

 

My own 'gut feeling' is to retain the delicate flavour without overpowering it with spicy, nippy condiments. I tried one recipe with choritzo and that blew away the taste of the scallop, all you could taste was choritzo.

 

Again, if anyone has any suggestions, add them in and I'll give it a whirl. I'll try and post -up some pictures if that makes of an interesting topic. 

 

Lets chat more :-)

post #17 of 27

Tip  when buying scallops   Some crooked fish mongers open cans and pull 6 or 7 out of each and then add liquid . If they do this out of 10 cans they make another one. Some add fake scallops, they are cut out of a fish called Skate  which remarkably has texture like a scallop.

 Spot check every once in a while drain can and weigh net scallops (keeps fish guy honest)

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #18 of 27

Someday,

 i think what i said in my post was to remove the scallops from the heat AS they lose their translucence...as they START to turn opaque...not WHEN they do...i agree by then it is too late. as for the sauces, i also agree with simple simple....you don't have to agree with them or even like them, it's just a few specials i have run with them to overwhelming success. i do like my specials to be playful....for me personally, i prefer swimingly simple...s&p, evoo, a bright squeeze of lemon...maybe some hot sauce nearby, or atleast la-yu... if happy scallop has them at his disposal all the time he may eventually want to try something different...i just read about a salt searing method done in a hot cast iron pan. apparently the salt(kosher) prevents the scallops from sticking and there is no oil needed as well....

BDL,

thanks for the grill lesson. got fresh sea scallops coming in next week so look forward to playing with them. you may want to give my post another quick reread as i hold the unpopular view of not slicing the scallops horizontally...again, come on...how often do you get to eat a sea creature like that unadulterated, unaltered and in its purist form?...let your freak flag fly migo with the smoking thing!...still think they would be nice cold smoked....maybe next time you're up to 'smokin', you can try it...

joey

food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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post #19 of 27

bdl,

you suggest dipping scallops in butter before grilling...really? won't that cause the grill to smoke and flare and turn the scallops black? i think even the olive oil would cause flare ups, no?...will be getting in some sea scallops this week to run for specials...am excited....thanks

joey 

food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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post #20 of 27

durangojojo,

 

It depends on the grill, I suppose.  As quickly as a scallop cooks, a small flare-up isn't the end of the world.  But if there's enough space between the food and the charcoal, it's not any sort of an issue.  I'm used to grills which provide a lot of space, so maybe that's part of it.

 

The three commandments of grilling are clean, lubed and hot  eek.gif  blushing.gif

 

That would be clean, well-oiled grates, and a hot fire. thumb.gif

 

With seafood especially, it's better to lube the food AND the cooking grate than one or the other; and better to control temps by moving the food closer or farther from a hot fire rather than using a dying fire.

 

BDL

post #21 of 27

thanks...i have a commercial antique grill...propane...i always lube both food and grates, but for our tuna i use sesame oil and for other fish i use a canola/olive oil blend....i was just curious about the butter...

joey

food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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post #22 of 27

wooooooooooooooooooow. I want them! But yeah. I would wrap in bacon or dry and coat in oil salt pepper + seasonings and sear in a hot cast iron and serve with a side of lemon.. dont over cook and its perfection. bacon wrapped scallops are awesome too :) While in season I have wrapped them in ramps too mmmm

post #23 of 27

Hey BDL same rules applied to girls I tried to date when I was younger (Much Younger) clean, lubed and hot.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #24 of 27


Originally Posted by chefedb View Post

Hey BDL same rules applied to girls I tried to date when I was younger (Much Younger) clean, lubed and hot.


[cough]

 

BDL

post #25 of 27

so with extreme being the new 'norm', guess you're probably not interested in a coquille st jacques meets southwest type dish either,eh?

 

BDL, 

would you really cut those beautiful scallops in half? really? why? wow,you of all people....hmmm...

joey


Edited by durangojo - 7/26/11 at 10:43am

food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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post #26 of 27

If you got a huge scallop and wanted to eat it raw, wouldn't you cut it rather than tearing it apart with your teeth?  What's the difference if you want to cook it in some way which works better with svelte beasties? 

 

Have knives, will cut.  Wire BDL, Monrovia.

post #27 of 27

somehow i just don't think of scallops as something you 'tear' into...steaks yes, lobster perhaps, fish and scallops no... the cartoon like visual i have of a man wearing a lobster bib 'tearing into' a giant scallop with his bare(bear) teeth like it was corn on the cob, makes me giggle...eating it raw would not be my first, second, third or fourth choice either...so yes i agree, that is exactly why we have knives!!!

joey


Edited by durangojo - 7/27/11 at 6:07am

food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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