Seared sea scallops are a fantastically decadent meal in their own right, and they pair so well with so many sides, that it’s hard to build a meal that doesn’t flow well with them. That said, they can be tricky to cook perfectly. Given that they’re not the world’s cheapest protein, and they can become rubbery if not done right, I found the prospect of cooking scallops daunting for the longest time. Having finally conquered my fears and worked out the kinks to my method, I’m happy to report that my wife and I have officially added scallops to our rotation…and having conquered my fears, we’ve saved quite a bit of money by making them at home instead of ordering them out.
Tonight’s meal takes sea scallops to a (borderline?) restaurant quality meal with the addition of a creamy garlic sherry sauce. This edition is paired with Parmesan Polenta and lemon sauteed snap peas, but these scallops would go very nicely with wild rice, risotto, spaghetti, mashed potatoes, and/or any steamed/sauteed vegetables your stomach desires (maybe not beets this time).
If you’re not interested in scallops, try making this sauce anyway! It goes very well with shrimp, flaky white fish like haddock and tilapia, and even chicken. You will not be disappointed!
Time: 15-20 Minutes
- Sea Scallops (I’d go with 5 per person for portion size as a suggestion)
- Raw Garlic Cloves (2-3 per serving is a good amount. Less, and you won’t get that garlicky goodness; more, and you won’t have to worry about vampires for a few days)
- Sherry Cooking Wine
- Creamy component (the more fat content, e.g. whole milk/heavy cream, the better your sauce will stay together, but I’m going to use 1% milk to keep this healthy). Your choice of dairy will affect the available cooking methods for your sauce, so I’ve broken it out below.
- Butter for sauteeing
- Heat a cast iron pan over medium heat (a regular non-stick will work, but if you’ve got one, use cast iron…much better sear and better sauce if using whole milk/heavy cream option)
- While the pan is heating, rinse your scallops and pat them dry with a paper towel
- Melt butter in the pan, and wait until it starts to bubble a little
- Put your scallops in one at a time, and let sear for 3-4 minutes until the pan side is golden brown.
- Flip, and sear for another 3-4 minutes.
- If using low-fat dairy component:
- When you start heating your scallop pan, melt a little butter in a separate sauce pan, and grate your garlic with a microplane grater into the butter (or slice your garlic thin, and dump that into the butter if not using a microplane grater)
- After a few minutes, pour in some Sherry, and let simmer
- Just as the scallops are finishing, turn the heat down to low, and pour in a little milk, and whisk to combine.
- Once the milk has heated a bit, and you’re safe from it separating, remove the scallops from the pan, and use this to deglaze.
- If using higher fat dairy:
- You can either use the same method above for the low fat (it’s a little more forgiving and less likely to separate)
- OR, just as the scallops are finishing, add your garlic (grated or sliced) to the scallop pan for a short time
- Remove the scallops from the pan, and deglaze with some Sherry
- Then whisk in your dairy to achieve desired creaminess
- Then, you’ve got the option to add the scallops back to finish off in the sauce or to move onto the “combine” step below
- If using low-fat dairy component:
- Plate your scallops, pour the sauce over them, devour, and enjoy! *Consider serving with a lemon wedge to give the scallops an extra added dimension*