So there I was, over served and casually under dressed at 22 years old, in one of my favorite Spanish restaurants. Its one of those places where you have your favorites, and you just blindly order. But after a less than successful start to a second date, I said to myself, “Self! Call an audible, change it up, go for something different!” So I did. I had honestly never tried one before. But enough bourbon changed my mind. And within 15 minutes, there they were, like tiny white snare drums radiating beacons of awesomeness, still sizzling on cold white china at the little tapas restaurant. Needless to say, I ditched the date and left with a true love of one of nature’s greatest bivalves, the scallop.
Now it is one thing to fall in love with a food, but it truly is another to learn how to cook it. And scallops and chefs have somewhat of a trying relationship. Especially in a busy environment. This delicious nugget of salty, ocean-y goodness is not one that can be left unattended. They require just the right amount of time. These jewels are not cheap, and an over cooked scallop can leave you crying in your sleep! But here are a few tips that can help you at home:
*dry- like many seafoods, slimy is rarely satisfying. Look for scallops that have been kept refrigerated/displayed out of their own juice.
*fresh- nobody wants the funk! Look for a fishmonger or market that market that is kind enough to let you take a whiff. If it smells like anything but a little saltwater, it may not be worth it.
*size- most mollusk & crustaceans are sold based on amount per pound. Scallops worth serving are normally at least 1 ounce, so look for U-16 or better (under 16 per pound).
*trimming- sometimes there is a tendon still attached to the scallop. This is what connected the meat to the shell, but it definitely needs to go! Take a paring knife and cut it out.
*heating- when we look at searing, always have your pan hot and ready before you add your fat! Crank it up to medium-high to high heat. (Some stoves mean business when they are full speed!) Need to know if your pan is ready? Run to the sink, wet your hand & flick a drop or two in. If it disappears before you can say Dumbledore, in other words very quickly, she’s ready.
*seasoning- no need to over do here. A light sprinkle of sea salt is fine. If you feel crazy, maybe a touch of cracked black pepper!
*searing-we have butter at the ready, and a tablespoon or two is fine. Any fat or oil that doesn’t have an exceptionally low smoke point will work. Once our fat is good and hot, which will happen quickly, add your scallops flat side down. Sear for 2 minutes and don’t you dare think about moving it until then. The bottom will be nice and golden brown. Flip and let it cook for the remaining 1 minute. I use a regular spoon to bath the butter back on top after flipping.
Blackberry Brown Butter Scallops
We love our classic seared scallops (pictured above). But if blackberry thyme scallops (title picture) tickle your fancy, it really is a no brainer!
*In addition to our butter in the skillet, we add one tablespoon fresh chopped thyme.
*Add one tablespoon minced shallot as well.
*We want our butter to brown up a little more than our basic scallop recipe. So give it a minute or two before we add the scallops, constantly stirring the sauce.
*After our same sear method, pull the scallops and plate them.
*Cut the heat and add a little blackberry jam to the melted butter, and spread around until it melts.
Drizzle that sauce on the scallops and be prepared to destroy your next dinner party!