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How to make perfect Seared Scallops?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

I'm struggling with making seared scallops, hope someone can help. As I don't get access to fresh scallops, I bought the frozen ones instead. I did let them thaw, even to room temp and then wipe them real dry. But just the second I put them on the pan, they get all watery and then it's already over because they can't get seared with that much as water (or their own juice?). 


I've seen a lot of videos show how to make them with perfect sear, but when it comes to practice, it's a whole another story :(. I didn't see their scallops release any water/juice somehow :(

post #2 of 9
Check the packaging, you don't want scallops that have anything added to the, have been brined or "wet-packed". This is a common practice and is usually the problem.
Thaw them overnight in your fridge, preferebly where they can drain(in a colander over a bowl or plate maybe). They don't need to be room temp.
Towel them dry and make sure that pan is HOT. This is another common problem, home stoves & home pans don't get as hot as easily. The kind of pan you use can make a big difference.
post #3 of 9
I guess i should say, to clarify, that if the pan is not hot enough, they will leach excess liquid, which will drop the temp further. Try doing fewer scallops at once.
post #4 of 9

The vast majority of scallops, especially ones purchased frozen, sold in grocery stores are wet packed scallops, with water, brine, and chemicals added to them.  You will never get a great sear on those but you can get a OK sear on them.  Let them thaw in  the fridge.  Pat them dry-don't worry about pressing on them a bit-anything to help remove excess liquid.  Once they are really dry place them, in a single layer, in a pan layered with paper towel.  Place paper towels (dry) over the scallops and allow to sit in the fridge overnight to dry out some more,  Check once or twice and if the paper towels get really soggy change them out.  When ready to cook, season your scallops and get your pan smoking hot.  Add oil, it should be just below the point where it starts to smoke and burst into flame.  I also add a little butter at this point but not too much.  Add just a few scallops to the pan, you don't want to overcrowd the pan which will make it lose too much heat.  Sear on 1 side for about 2-3 minutes then flip and sear until done.  If I have really fresh, dry pack scallops I like them still almost raw in the middle, but if I'm not sure about where they came from or their freshness then I cook then all the way through, just to the point of being done but not rubbery.

post #5 of 9

You can certainly get a decent sear on frozen scallops though; ensure your fat is almost at the point of smoking before you put the scallops in (do not let it actually smoke), butter will produce more colour than oil in my experience. Do not sear using excessive oil. Pat the scallops dry as opposed to "wiping" (which I assume you're doing perhaps to delicately to draw out sufficient moisture), it's permissable to apply a tiny bit of pressure. Are you using a non-stick skillet? They typically underperform as compared to uncoated skillets with regard to browning. They're not unusable, I just find they don't produce quite the same colour. Again, this is just my experience. I really only keep one around for eggs.

Edited by SpoiledBroth - 9/27/14 at 10:37pm
post #6 of 9
It's not frozen vs fresh, it's dry pack vs wet pack. It a big issue that scallops in particular are known for.
post #7 of 9

Aye, evidently I hit reply before reading the rest of the thread. I have not ever bumped up against such a product in the past (wet pack). What is the supposed benefit in doing that? Shelf stability?

post #8 of 9
Also it "plumps" the scallops and makes them look bigger... until you cook them. I've never used it in a restaurant; a good seafood place won't use em because they don't cook the same. What I've never seen are fresh scallops, I can only imagine how.much that would cost!
post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 

thank you guys so much for the great advice. I now have many things to watch and experiment with next time. I think I did get the wet pack (have no idea about this before), they are really plumped with a lot of water and then got much smaller when cooked. And maybe I didn't pat it in the right way. Moreover, as Spoiledbroth mentioned, I did use a non-stick skillet, this may cause a huge difference in the searing process, I guess. Again, thanks a lot!!

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