A Brave New World of Pan-Seared Scallops

Ladies and gentlemen! Let me start off by saying happy New Year and welcome to 2015. I’m determined to make this year a great food year, not only for our faithful Sporkers, but for myself. I can be selfish.

To ensure that we start 2015 on the right foot, I’ve decided to tackle a dinner food rather than a snack or dessert. Shocking, I know. The strangest thing about it is that I didn’t choose spaghetti, PB&J, or even Pop Tarts… I’ve landed on scallops. Yes, scallops, the delicious seafood that only seems to taste good if you pay 40 bucks for it at a restaurant where people stare at you if you’re not wearing a tie.

I stumbled upon this recipe a couple of months ago—I wanted to attempt to make dinner for my boyfriend and thought that a fancy-schmancy dinner would impress him. As you know, I have zero abilities in the kitchen and really just wanted to make my boyfriend laugh with whatever charcoal dish I served up. Low expectations eliminate disappointment, right?

Silver Spork Scallops

Little did I know that I’d actually make a dinner that didn’t kill either of us. Maybe there is a god?

Anyway, I chose scallops as the dish. I decided to try to replicate this dish this week but couldn’t remember how I saved our lives… so, I went to Martha. As crazy as she is, she really does know how to cook… don’t tell anyone I said that.

Martha and I both use lemon in our dishes, but I decided to add the lemon to the scallops while they were searing (she added lemon wedges to the individual plates when the dish was served). I also added salt and pepper before putting them on the table. Anyway, the key to this dish is to know how long to cook those darn squishy scallops.

Pan-Seared Scallops

8 large scallops
2 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon or less olive oil
Dash of salt and pepper to taste (beware, scallops are already salty)
Your favorite bottle of wine (optional, though recommended)

Combine the dash of salt and pepper to your lemon juice in a small bowl and set aside. You’ll need this later.

Use the olive oil in a medium pan to sear your scallops at medium-high heat. Martha says to do about three minutes per side and I think that’s remarkably accurate, depending on the size of your scallops. The goal is to change the thick part of the scallops from clear to white; aim for a golden-brown color on the pan-sides of your scallops.

(If you want to get crazy) Instead of drizzling the lemon juice mixture over the scallops after they have completed cooking, add the mixture after about the first two minutes of searing on the initial side of the scallops. By the end of the total cooking time, you will have closely created a reduction. I stumbled upon this when I first made this dish and a thick, brownish, delicious reduction made my scallops AMAZING. I’m just saying, sometimes accidents make your meal da bomb diggity.

See? That wasn’t so bad. You can now successfully prepare a seafood dish without burning your apartment down—if that was your New Year’s resolution, congratulations! Now, to really impress: go to a fancy seafood restaurant, steal one of their to-go boxes, run home, put your scallop masterpiece into said box (should probably have grabbed some of that green plant they add to the sides of dishes), and deliver it to your mom. Show her that you’re not starving and that your dead-end job actually yields some classy experiences! You’re welcome.


Wine of the week:
I highly recommend pairing this delectable meal with some vino. I know people say to go with white wine when eating seafood… but I didn’t plan that far ahead, okay? But, if you really like red wines, you should try Le Grand Jas Côtes Du Rhône. Tell me what you think!

Post and photos by Grace Tweedy. Recipe from Martha.