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How To Make Pan-Seared Scallops

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Dry the Scallops, Then Season Them with Kosher Salt
Dry Scallops, Then Season with Kosher Salt

Dry scallops, then season with Kosher salt.

Photo © Danilo Alfaro

How to Pan-Sear Scallops

Cooking scallops requires a hot pan so that they sear rather than steam. But they also need to be dry when they hit the pan.

Most scallops you buy at the store have been soaked in a liquid solution that keeps them looking white. So you'll need to drain and rinse them thoroughly, then pat them dry with paper towels before you season them.

If you're lucky, your seafood purveyor carries "dry-packed" scallops, which haven't been treated with this liquid. If so, you don't need to rinse them — just season them with Kosher salt and they're ready to cook. Note that scallops have an adductor muscle (sometimes called a "foot") on the side. It's a tough little tab of meat that you should pull off before cooking because it can be kind of chewy.

Once your scallops are dry and seasoned, heat a nonstick sauté pan over a high heat, and add a tablespoon of clarified butter (or raw, unsalted butter) and a tablespoon of vegetable oil. The oil/butter mixture needs to be very hot before you add the scallops — you should actually see just a tiny bit of smoke.
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