Saturday, March 31, 2012

How to pan sear scallops

If you don't already know about fin fishmongers located out of Altamont, now is a good time to try their stuff out. This was the second time I bought seafood from them, the first time being a little experiment with shad roe and a butter poached lobster tail. Today I cooked griddled cod and pan seared scallops for dinner, along with a little asparagus and anchovy butter.

Anyone who knows or loves seafood will tell you that a good seafood meal starts with a great product and ends with a simple preparation. Beef, chicken, and other flesh are just different in this respect. You can make a cheap cut of pork amazing with a little know-how. Unfortunately, this just doesn't seem to hold up for seafood. If you want a good seafood meal you must start with a high quality product. After you have ascertained your seafood you must proceed by not messing it up or cooking outside of your boundaries.

Luckily, the fruit of the sea plays nicely with simple preparations like the ones above. For the cod I coated it in melted butter, dredged it in flour, and then cooked it on a griddle. After it was done cooking I finished with a little anchovy butter and that was it. Not only was the fish cooked in a manageable and time saving manner, but it also upheld all the flavors of the cod.

The reason why simple preparations of seafood work so well is because their flavors are typically delicate and easily masked by additives, flavorings, and incorrect application of heat. I mean, think about sushi or sashimi. Both are extremely simple and contain clean flavors. Even still, a good piece of sashimi or sushi can be more complexly flavored than you might ever imagine. (This is because the Japanese really know what they are doing with seafood.) Cooking fish or seafood follows the old KISS principle, though in this case it's "Keep it simple seafood."

Anyway, pan searing scallops are an ideal way to follow this principle. I use four ingredients and one pan to cook the scallops, but at the same time preserve their flavor. The trick to getting that nice color on top is following the directions exactly as stated below. A cast iron pans helps too, but the results should be comparable in any other type of pan as well.

How to sear scallops:
5 to 7 medium to large scallops, rinsed and patted dry with paper towels
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup beer, any golden beer, (experiment with other beers at your own risk)
Vegetable oil, enough to coat the pan liberally

1. Heat the oil in a pan over medium high heat until the oil shimmers. (Rotate the pan to check for this.) While the pan heats salt and pepper the scallops to taste.
2. Place the scallops evenly spaced in the pan, making sure there is about an inch between each. Let them cook for one minute and then check to make sure they aren't sticking. (Pick the scallops up out of the pan and then replace them on the same side and in the same place.)
3. Continue cooking the scallops at this heat for 5 to 6 more minutes, or until you see a golden color creeping up the cooked side of the scallop.
4. Reduce heat to low and gently add the beer to the pan. Immediately cover the pan and steam the scallops for 2 minutes.
5. Remove the lid and check for doneness. The top of the scallops should be opaque in color. If they are undercooked return the lid to the pan and cook one minute longer, or until opaque on top.

1 comment:

  1. Nothing can compare to a perfectly seared scallop. So good. These look great!


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