I have trouble steering my grocery cart past a seafood display of glistening, plump scallops, Who can resist the sweet, delicate flavor of this inimitable mollusk? When someone tells me they don’t like scallops, I ask if they were cooking with ”wet” or “dry” scallops? Most folks shrug in reply.
There is an ocean of distance between “wet” scallops that are pumped up with STP (sodium tripolyphospate) to increase weight and “shelf” life, and “dry” scallops, left as mother nature intended.
Like watching a steroid-pumped athlete fizzle when subjected to media heat, I’ve sadly watched “wet” scallops dissipate into a milky substance when subjected to the heat of a hot sauté pan. Worse, “wet” scallops have a slightly metallic flavor.
There is technique to searing the perfect scallop. Begin with the heaviest skillet you have, then heat over medium-high heat for a minute before adding a thin layer of canola oil. When the oil starts to shimmer, add your scallops to the pan.
Don’t touch the scallops for a full minute so they have time to develop a crust. If you fiddle with them, your crust will fall off. They will still be tasty, but you will not achieve the desired deep brown sesame crust. If you think you are burning them, remove from the heat a few seconds, adjust the heat, but leave the scallops alone!
After they have developed a crust, you can turn turn down the heat to medium and cook an additional minute. Then raise the heat, turn them over with tongs and repeat the process. The scallops should be cooked through, and slightly translucent in the center.