Pan Seared Scallops Recipe – Alton Brown Style.
We’ve done a few posts on seafood here on Platter Talk, one of my favorite gifts from the culinary world. It’s hard for me to say which seafood I love most. As my mom was known to comment on her six kids, “I love them all, equally.” I have to say the same when it come to food from the sea. With that in mind, this evening I decided to tackle scallops, a variety of fare from the ocean whose preparation in the kitchen has always eluded me. Except for tonight, thanks in large part to the legendary Alton Brown and his pan seared scallops recipe.
Pan Seared Scallops Recipe
To be clear, living in the landlocked portion of the United States known as Wisconsin has presented challenges when it comes to finding fresh seafood. It’s an oxymoron. Sure, we have an abundance of wonderful-to-eat fresh water fish such as perch, bass, and walleye from some of our bordering great lakes and even the rivers that flow through our state.
Seafood such as tuna, grouper, shrimp, lobster, – well they are an entirely different story. And scallops. We see scallops in the seafood cases of all the major grocery stores throughout the U.S. and these scallops appear ever so plump and juicy, just begging to be taken home and enjoyed. The very sad part of this scenario lies in the fact that many times their plumpness and juiciness lies not in their own natural goodness, but rather in the taste sucking evils of a preservative that goes by the name of sodium triphosphate (STP). Besides being used as a preservative for much of the seafood we see in our grocer cases, it’s also a primary component of detergents. Nice eh? Not.
The moral of this story: Seek out scallops that are not preserved in STP. Instead, look for dry-packed scallops. Dry-packed scallops are scallops that are shucked, packed up and shipped on ice without chemical additives. They taste better than wet-packed scallops, which are soaked in water and STP, meaning the scallop becomes bloated with water and food additives, resulting in a duller flavor. Scallops with too much moisture are also less successful in the pan, since excess water seeps out, preventing a flavorful crust from forming on the outside of the scallop as it cooks.
Dry-packed scallops may also have a stickier texture and a slightly more pronounced smell, which is nothing to worry about. They cost more, but have a naturally sweeter taste. We are fortunate to have a grocer who stocks dry pack-packed scallops and just as lucky to have a resource such as Alton Brown, whose recipe for seared scallops lists a prep time of five minutes and a cook time of three minutes. Can it get any simpler? Can it be any tastier? With dry-packed scallops, the answer to both questions is absolutely not. I hope you will give this pan seared scallops recipe a try. -Dan
- 1 to 1¼ pounds dry sea scallops, approximately 16
- 2 teaspoons unsalted butter
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/seared-scallops-recipe.html?oc=linkback
- Remove the small side muscle from the scallops, rinse with cold water and thoroughly pat dry.
- Add the butter and oil to a 12 to 14-inch saute pan on high heat. Salt and pepper the scallops. Once the fat begins to smoke, gently add the scallops, making sure they are not touching each other. Sear the scallops for 1½ minutes on each side. The scallops should have a ¼-inch golden crust on each side while still being translucent in the center. Serve immediately.
Warm serving plates in the oven to preserve and maintain the heat of the entrée.