Pan-Seared Scallops

Pan Seared Scallops

Details

Juicy, tender pan-seared scallops are served on a bed of baby spinach and finished with a warm bacon-sherry vinaigrette.
  • Serves: 4
  • Active Time: 20 mins
  • Total Time: 30 mins
  • Views: 152,975
  • Success: 97%

Steps

Step 1: Preparing the Mise en Place

• 2 cups baby spinach
• 1 tbsp shallots
• 2 strips smoked bacon

Method

Prepare your mise en place by washing and drying the baby spinach. Remove the stems. Finely dice the shallots and set aside. Slice the bacon into match stick sized pieces.

Step 2: Preparing the Vinaigrette

• 4 tbsp sherry (preferably cream sherry)
• 2 tbsp sherry vinegar
• 1/3 cup apple juice

Method

To make the vinaigrette, heat a fry pan over medium-low heat and add the bacon. Once half of the fat has rendered, add the shallots and let caramelize slightly. Turn the heat up to medium-high and deglaze the pan with the sherry. Let reduce slightly. Add the sherry vinegar and apple juice and reduce by about half. If you did not use a sweeter cream sherry, you may want to add a touch of sugar.

Once the mixture has reduced, remove from the heat and set aside. Keep in mind it will continue to thicken as it cools.

Step 3: Pan-Searing the Scallops

• 12 whole scallops
• 3 tbsp clarified butter
• 1/4 tsp kosher salt
• 1/4 tsp white pepper
• 2 tbsp non-clarified butter

Method

To cook the scallops, pat them dry with a paper towel to remove any excess moisture. Remove the tough muscle along the side of the scallops, if present.

Heat a fry pan to medium-high heat and add the clarified butter. While the butter is heating, season the scallops with salt and white pepper.

Once the butter is hot and just begins to smoke, place the scallops into the pan and turn the heat up to high. The scallops are ready to flip when they start to cook up the sides and turn opaque. Once ready, the bottom should be a nice golden brown. Turn the heat down to medium and flip them over. The scallops are cooked when you can see that about 1/4 of an inch on the top and bottom has turned opaque.

Next, butter baste the scallops. Add the non-clarified butter to the pan. Once it melts, spoon a generous amount over each scallop. Immediately turn off the heat and remove the scallops from the pan. Set aside while you quickly reheat the vinaigrette.

Step 4: Finishing and Plating the Scallops

• 1 pinch fleur de sel (for garnish)

Method

Bring the vinaigrette to a gentle boil then set aside to cool for a minute or two.

Next, add some of the dressing to the spinach and toss. Reserve some of the vinaigrette, so you can drizzle a bit over the scallops once they are plated.

Next, stack 3 or 4 spinach leaves with a few pieces of bacon and place each stack onto a plate. Then top each stack of spinach with one of the scallops. Drizzle the scallops with some of the remaining vinaigrette and garnish each scallop with a few pieces of bacon. Top with a pinch of Fleur de Sel and serve.

Chef's Notes

This appetizer is a perfect beginning to an elegant meal.

Make sure you have everything ready before you start cooking the scallops, so you don’t overcook them.

57 Comments

  • Joe G Rouxbe Staff
    Joe G
    Made these again last night and they are unbelievable. Anyone else tried them? If you haven't and you like scallops, these could become one of your favorite appetizers.
  • Dee F
    Dee F
    These were so nice, we had these for dinner. We just added more spinach and made it into a meal. The sweetness of the sauce with the scallops and the spinach was really good. Will definitely make these again.
  • Marshall O
    Marshall O
    Try this scallop dish - Basil Stuffed Jumbo Scallops Serves 6 6 U-10 scallops, clean, sweet smelling, muscle removed on the side 6 thin slices of fresh plump red tomato 3 tsp fresh basil, thinly sliced 2-3 tsp grated parmesean Olive oil Kosher or sea salt Fresh ground pepper Favorite hard crusted bread if desired… Take the scallops, insert a knife in the side, and make a pocket. Combine basil, a glob of olive oil, and parmesan. Stuff the scallop with about ½ tsp, and a slice of tomato. Season with salt, pepper and a couple drops of olive oil. In a hot pan, sear scallops until the tops and bottoms are golden, and the scallop is firm, but tender. A couple minutes should do it, but make sure not to over cook it, as the scallop should be opaque, creamy looking, with a firm, and tender texture. Drizzle a little of the pan juices on your stuffed scallop, and enjoy!
  • Terrell N
    Terrell N
    This was my first recipe I prepared from Rouxbe video. Not only was the flavor just perfect,the video helped me NOT over cook the scallops. Tonight I am trying the cashew chicken. Enjoy, Terrell Newberry
  • Suzan A
    Suzan A
    I went to Ontario and did a 6 course supper for 17 of my family. This was my second course and what a hit!! I served it with a side of wild mushroom risotto. In fact most of the meal came from my course at the school or from the Rouxbe web site. Thanks for making me look so good! Suzan
  • Rob W
    Rob W
    Every Christmas our family holds our own little iron chef competition and our team chose as one of it's dishes to be this recipe. As we were cooking for 12 people we decided to change it up a bit and serve the scallops over a bed of spinach. Not only a very attractive dish but the combination of sherry, apple juice and smokey bacon was outstanding. It was a hit!!!
  • Kevin W
    Kevin W
    I made these last night as an appetizer for some friends and they were a huge hit! This is definetely going to become the way I eat scallops from now on. The sherry/bacon vinegrette is deliscious, I think I will use it on a red meat, maybe petit filet. the plating came out great, everyone was thrilled that these babies tasted as good as they looked!
  • Kris R
    Kris R
    Yumm! This too was my first attempt at a recipe from rouxbe.com. I am enjoying the site and learning some pretty interesting info here and there. I used almost 1" accross scallops and followed the cooking instructions for the scallops. Who new? I have always over-cooked scallops. Whether you place on the spinach or have a spinach salad on the side it works!
  • Diane K
    Diane K
    Boy these were wonderful and so eash to do especially when you are told how to clarify the butter. Will do this again Thanks All. Di K
  • John B
    John B
    Why did the bottoms of the large sea-scallops get so brown with the butter (whipped)? I fried them 3 minutes/side.
  • John B
    John B
    Why did the large sea-scallops turn so brown when I seared them for 3 minutes/side with whipped butter???
  • Jennifer C
    Jennifer C
    Great recipe and I love the fact that the video shows the freshest of ingredients!
  • Judi G
    Judi G
    Made these tonight and they were delicious. But I will serve them for special occasions only and just for the two of us. I found it was quite a bit of fiddling around, so I wasn't convinced the time to get this on to the plate was well spent. And that is only one course. Maybe I will double the amount next time and make it the whole dinner. Mind you, I did learn some new techniques along the way. I NEVER did find sherry vinegar and I tried several shops.
  • April H
    April H
    We made this dish around Christmas while snowed in and omitted the bacon. It was amazing! And instead of the spinach we served it with the mushroom risotto and steamed baby bok choy. Overall, a great dinner that we will make again for guests. Very visually appealing!
  • Tobe T
    Tobe T
    When I added the clarified butter to the hot pan it splattered a LOT and the butter quickly turned brown after I started cooking the scallops. Did I not clarify the butter correctly or was the pan just too hot? Thanks-
  • Dennis K
    Dennis K
    The first time I tried this, I soaked the scallops in water to try to get rid of the sand. BIG MISTAKE!! When I went to pan-sear the scallops, the pan filled with water. I had to empty it twice, and by that time, the recipe was shot. Could not get that golden seared look on the scallops to save my life. However, the next week, I did it differently. I just rinsed the scallops and then patted them dry several times before searing. This time it looked like your video and they were excellent. What a dish! Thanks, Dennis K
  • Tom S
    Tom S
    My guess is the pan was too hot. The milk solids that settle out when clarifying butter are the element that splatters. You certainly can brown clarified butter (usually intentionally) but it takes either extra time or extra heat.
  • Joe G Rouxbe Staff
    Joe G
    Tom is right, milk solids will splatter, but properly clarified butter should have removed the milk solids. Your problem was that you likely didn't pat your scallops dry and the water was your culprit (as you diagnosed). Thoroughly pat your scallops dry. And while you can start your scallops on high heat for that nice golden crust, you will likely need to adjust the heat down so that the clarified butter does not burn (which it will over higher heat and extended cooking). So watch the color of the butter and smoke along with the sizzling sounds. These are you cues to picking the right heat for your burner, pan and the amount of scallops you are cooking.
  • Carolyn P
    Carolyn P
    I made this recipe but took some time to brown the scallops, sometimes when I buy scallops in the grocery store they are a very white color meaning they have been bleached to look good and will have more water content, this makes it hard to brown as the pan stays wet, any suggestions on how to get all the water out, sometimes the paper towel doesn't get do it well enough
  • Joe G Rouxbe Staff
    Joe G
    Hi Carolyn.. first of all, I've not heard of bleaching scallops... Has anyone else out there? I've hauled scallops right out of the sea, shucked and eaten them and the variety I experienced were nice and white. Others might not be (not an expert here). As for drying, if you have really wet scallops, try patting dry and then leaving them on paper towel or a rack in the fridge over night - turning every so often. Fridge drying works wonders. We do it with our chickens after brining and steaks to dry out the skin for great crusts or crispy skin. The only other thing you need to perfect is to recognize correct pan heat and how to control the temperature. Watch the video a few times and memorize the cooking sounds and volume of the sizzle. What is the clarified butter doing and then replicate the action and sound. You can do it! Keep me posted.
  • Krisztina T
    Krisztina T
    I had my in-laws over for dinner, I made this scallop appitizer as the first course. This was my first time making scallops!!! I suprised them with my "skills", got lot of complements. I seared the scallops perfectly, the whole dish was perfect after watching the video three times :). I will definitelly make it again! Krisztina
  • Ted W
    Ted W
    It looks like you are using a non-stick pan in the video. Can you still get a nice seared crust on the scallops like you do with a stainless skillet?
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    Definitely you would get just as good of a sear on stainless steel. Just make sure you preheat the pan properly so the scallops do not stick. Here is a Drill-down about preheating a stainless steel pan - http://rouxbe.com/drilldowns/363
  • Ted W
    Ted W
    Thanks Dawn. I have always used stainless in the past when cooking scallops. Next time I will try a non-stick skillet. Is it ok to use non-stick on high heat? Thanks
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    No problemo Ted, don't worry about using stainless steel, people (including myself in the past) use non-stick mostly because they have been taught that it is the only way for things not to stick; however if properly heated a stainless steel pan is generally just as non-stick. Also, with non-stick it is not recommended that they are heated past about medium to medium high heat.
  • Christie C
    Christie C
    What can I use to substitute for sherry vinegar in this recipe? Will attempt this recipe tonight! Thanks!
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    You could use red wine vinegar, balsamic or even rice wine vinegar if you have it. You may just need to add a touch of sugar depending on the tartness of the vinegar. The sherry vinegar does add a unique taste but it's more about the acidity that it adds. Hope this helps!
  • Christie C
    Christie C
    Thank you, Dawn, for the balsamic vinegar suggestion. (You are always so fast and helpful in responding to questions!) Turns out, I didn't need to add any more sugar because the vinaigrette was already sweet enough. It worked really well. The whole dish was a hit - restaurant quality!
  • Janet N
    Janet N
    My family is not a big fan of sherry. Could you substitute a white wine instead?
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    You could use white wine...there are also a few other options...see comment above your question for other ideas :-)
  • Marsel N
    Marsel N
    Great recipe, I will make them for more often . I am learning with your videos so much, thanks.
  • K H
    K H
    What side dish or dishes would you use to compliment the scallops on baby spinach to make a complete meal?
  • Kimberley S Rouxbe Staff
    Kimberley S
    This may be tricky to exactly pair with a side dish, as it sort of a complete appetizer as is. That being said you could serve maybe a nice pasta dish, such as the Aglio e Olio or maybe even some Toasted Middle Eastern Couscous...for a vegetable you could something like the Sauteed Green Beans. Hope this helps!
  • K H
    K H
    This was a lot of fun to make! I used large scallops, so serving 3-4 on a plate as the main dish actually worked well. I ended up making some risotto and using the extra baby spinach as sides with the remaining reduction as the salad dressing. I've never cooked scallops before and the instructions and results were fantastic! I think this is my 5th or 6th Rouxbe recipe I've tried. Thanks Rouxbe! I love trying these recipes.
  • R T
    R T
    Every time I sear scallops, the scallops would be nice and dry. However, a lot of whitish water would come out of the scallop on the serving platter. Does this mean that I didn't dry it enough before searing it? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    If you are drying the scallops well before cooking as you say, perhaps it is your pan temperature. Have you watched any of the lessons on Pan Frying or Searing. I am sure there you will find some valuable information and tips. Good luck and happy scallop cooking.
  • Kelly M
    Kelly M
    Okay, I've had it. When your knife goes "crack, crack, crack" like that against the cutting board when slicing things like shallots, it means your knife is not sharp. I mostly like the things this site demos, but I really hate poor technique. Poor technique should not be taught.Poor technique is dangerous.Dull knives are dangerous.Knives should be sharp, and they should not make that "crack" noise when they chop through something, nor should all the sawing I often see be necessary. A slice through a tomato, for instance, should be one smooth motion. This site has some excellent videos about sharpening knives, in fact some of the best I have seen. NOT sharpening your knives is poor technique in itself. I guess I am overly-picky, but if I saw some of this in my own catering company, I would send my "chefs" back to school.
  • Ana B
    Ana B
    Last night I made the scallop recipe and the taste was excellent. I had to make them in batches because I had so many. That's where my problem came in. I couldn't figure out if I had the pan too hot or not hot enough. At first, I know the pan was hot enough and the scallops didn't stick. I had to turn it down a little bit because it started to smoke a little more. I got a nice sear on that side, then, that's when they all stuck to the pan. Instead of using the pan again, I cleaned it out, reheated it correctly to make the second batch. This time, I thought I would leave the heat up so that they wouldn't stick. It started to smoke but I let them in there. Then, I flipped them over; it was still smoking but those buggers still stuck to the pan. I had to yet make another batch and the same thing happened. So far, everything I have made has been great, the scallops tasted great too but I'm not sure what to do about that sticking to the pan business? This is one question that keeps coming up in my head wether it's scallops or chicken is when I have to pan fry anything in batches, I am nervous to burn the sucs, the pan isn't as "non stick" with the second batch and am just not sure how to do say three batches. Or would I just use two pans? Anyway, The scallops were excellent but just those questions on the technique I'm trying to get down. I would appreciate any help. I have 5 lbs of scallops so I want to nail these buggers.
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    Not sure what the issue is Ana. I believe you did watch the lesson on how to pan fry and how to heat a pan properly, so I don't think that is the issue (you may just want to watch that again, perhaps you are just missing a small detail). Question, were the scallops nice and dry before you pan-fried them? What are you using as the fat? Butter, oil or a combo of both? I tend to use oil and or clarified butter as they have a higher smoke point than regular butter. This may just be something you have to practice with. Also there is no harm in using a non-stick pan. In fact, I think that we did use one for these scallops. Don't get me wrong though, stainless steel should also work. Let me know how things go and keep on practicing. We are here if you have anymore questions. Cheers!
  • Ana B
    Ana B
    Thanks for writing so quickly again. I think that's what I'm going to do. I will do the non stick pan and just try it that way once. I wanted to really do this without because I know before non stick they had to have made scallops correctly. I tried to make sure everything was right, I dried the scallops real well, they weren't cold, I used grapeseed oil and with that tried clarified butter to see if that would have helped. I think I'm just going to have to practice more like you say and when watching that video I did see the non stick pan so that was good. Ok, I will keep going girlie and thanks so much. Your tips are always so helpful. Thanks again and talk to you soon.
  • Omar E
    Omar E
    Can one use ghee instead of clarified butter or would it have too much of a 'nutty' flavor? Thank you
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    In many cases you could substitute ghee with clarified butter. Yes it has a slightly more nutty flavor, but you just need to think of the other flavors in the particular dish you are making. This scallop dish is full of strong flavors; therefore you will not even notice that you used ghee. Perhaps with something delicate like hollandaise, ghee might make a difference, but you are fine here. I say don't be afraid to try things out; that is the best part of cooking, there are rarely any absolutes!
  • Anne G
    Anne G
    I served these last night as part of a special birthday dinner for my niece. The scallops were a huge hit and so easy to prepare. They came out perfect even after a few glasses of wine! I used balsamic in place of the sherry vinegar and it tasted amazing. I will definitely make this again (and again!). This dish is perfect for entertaining in the evening after you have worked all day and don't have much time to prep.
  • Reluctant G
    Reluctant G
    I have read that if you season the scallops with salt before cooking the salt will draw out the liquid and inhibit the browning. What's your thoughts on this? Why not just season the scallops after they are cooked?
  • Kimberley S Rouxbe Staff
    Kimberley S
    This is one of those things that you need to test out for yourself to see if you prefer one method over the other. Some chefs season just before the scallops hit the hot pan and some season after with a finishing salt. To each their own. If the pan has been properly heated, the scallops should obtain good color either way. For more information be sure to check out the lesson on "Pan Frying" and also the lesson on "Pan Frying Fish". Cheers!
  • Kate P
    Kate P
    These were fabulous. Whipped up for dinner last night and we were licking our plates! Easy simple and straight forward instructions. Loved THEM!
  • Tammy M
    Tammy M
    I live in a small town in Kansas and have to drive an hour to a large city to find decent seafood. However, the only scallops I can find are frozen. They are large diver scallops - just frozen, so they will contain more moisture after they're thawed. What is the best way to thaw them to reduce as much moisture as possible?
  • Kimberley S Rouxbe Staff
    Kimberley S
    Frozen scallops are fine. Please refer to the lesson on How to Buy and Store Fish, specifically Topic 5. These same techniques apply seafood such as scallops and shrimp. No matter how they are thawed according to the lesson, it is vital that the scallops are patted dry with paper towels prior to cooking. If they contain any surface moisture, you won't get a good sear. Cheers!
  • Hsiao hui W
    Hsiao hui W
    Hi, I am a new student. I very much want to try this recipe but just wonder what i can do with the unused cream sherry. I don't drink and it's quite expensive to buy cream sherry in Hong Kong. I googled that cream sherry, once opened, can only last for one week, which means I cannot use the leftover cream sherry for any cooking after one week? Is there any subsitute I can use? Or what can I do with the cream sherry so it can last at least one month or two for more cookings!
  • Ken R Rouxbe Staff
    Ken R
    Hi- You can use any off-dry wine as a replacement (maybe drier-style Riesling) or any type of sherry really. A full flavored sake may even work! There are lots of brands that are used for drinking exclusively and lesser brands are good for cooking. As for the shelf-life, sherry is very stable. It does not need to be kept in the refrigerator and since it is a fortified wine (like port or madeira), it can last many months (or even years!) after opened. In short, it was designed to be stable so it could be transported without having issues of spoilage. I hope this helps! Enjoy.
  • Hsiao hui W
    Hsiao hui W
    Hi Ken, Many thanks for your advice. Now I feel much better and confident now. Can't wait to cook the receipt today!
  • Cindy G
    Cindy G
    Hi there ~ I was just wondering if it matters what type of scallop you use. I read about frozen scallops so I feel that question has been answered, but what about what type - sea scallop, bay scallop are there other kinds? If so what is the difference, and is one better than the other? Just curious mostly, I have yet to cook scallops and really want to try this recipe, but where I live I am sure I can only get frozen, but not sure about sea vs. bay? Thanks so much - you are all very helpful.
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    Good question Cindy. We recommend that you use sea scallops rather than bay scallops, as bay scallops are too small. These are generally used more in sauces and stews. Hope that helps. Cheers!
  • Cindy G
    Cindy G
    Thanks, yes helpful.
  • Cindy G
    Cindy G
    OK, just made this recipe and it was great. I couldn't believe my luck, I was able to find nice big FRESH sea scallops. Everything turned out great, I didn't have the cream sherry, but just used apple juice and sherry vinegar w/a tiny bit of sugar. Everyone loved them and I love your video, because I had never cooked scallops before I was worried about overcooking them, but your video helped me reach the perfect done"ness" My only question is - out of the 12 scallops - 3 of them had a tiny bit of grit. Is this normal occasionally or should I have cleaned them better than just patting them w/a paper towel? Thanks to your cooking school for helping me overcome my fear of cooking scallops!
  • Ken R Rouxbe Staff
    Ken R
    Hi Cindy- First, that's great that you had a successful scallop experience. That's what we are all about, helping you to become a better cook. As for the grit, it's hard to know exactly where that may have come from and it's normal to have a tiny bit of grit in a small percentage of the total scallops. These sea creatures do live in sandy ocean floor, so sometimes they can have a bit of sand embedded in their flesh (especially by the small side ligament that is sometimes affixed). Next time, maybe have another look and pat them off again with a clean towel if you find anything. It's not an exact science! I hope this helps.
  • Cindy G
    Cindy G
    Thanks for the quick reply! I will give them an extra patting next time, since I hadn't cooked them before (and only ate them once before that) I was not sure if it was normal. It was a small percentage - so I feel confident it will be fine next time. Thanks again, it's always reassuring to hear from you experts at Rouxbe!

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