Make the most of sweet, delicate scallops in these good-enough-for-company recipes that come together in a flash.
Scallops are often considered a luxury item, something we don't feature in our weekly meal rotation. There's no question that we associate them with restaurant dinners and special meals—they can be quite pricey, it's true. But when you consider how few scallops it takes to make a satisfying dish and how easy they are to cook, this shellfish is a really good value. Another bonus: The scallop has been lifted from its ridged shell before it comes to market, so it's pure protein, with no shell to peel or crack.
Sea Scallops vs. Bay Scallops
Sea Scallops are the most commonly available type of scallops. When you buy them, they should smell sweet. Because they are large, just two or three are enough for a single person's appetizer, and four or five can make a meal serving when combined with a vegetable and a grain.
Bay scallops are the small (dice-sized) variety harvested in cold bays and inlets closer to shore, usually in the fall and winter. They don't often have enough surface area to sear well in a pan but take beautifully to being tossed in a coating and fried or sautéed quickly and finished with a squeeze of lemon or in a pan sauce.
What are Diver Scallops?
Diver scallops, sometimes seen on menus or at high-end fishmongers, are not a specific type of scallop; they are more prized and expensive because they've been harvested by divers who have plucked them from the seabed by hand.
Dry vs. Wet
Dry scallops are highly desirable because they've been packed dry and shipped to market quickly- without being tossed in any preservative liquid to keep them fresh. Because of their dryness, they develop an excellent crust-like exterior when seared at high heat or grilled over a fire. Wet-packed scallops will release water if you try to sear them.
Best Cooking Practices
For best results with either type of scallop, be sure to pat the surface dry, then place the scallops in a single layer in the refrigerator, uncovered, so they can air dry for a short while, then pat dry again just before cooking. Season at the last minute so the salt doesn't draw moisture out.
The most sensible approach to grilling scallops is to thread scallops onto skewers and turn the skewers only twice, allowing each side of the scallops to become grill-marked.
The key for both pan-searing and grilling is using high heat and waiting until the first side has been seared so it will allow itself to release when you slide a spatula under it; too soon and it will stick to the surface, ripping the tender scallop.
The Scallop's Mystery Muscle
When a recipe calls for removing the tough muscle from a scallop, what does that mean? Even though there is almost no prep needed to ready a scallop for cooking, there is one tiny muscle (also known as the "foot") that originally helped the scallop stay in its shell. You can find this muscle stuck to one side of each scallop (although occasionally, it may be missing). It is slightly opaque and about the size of a fingernail. It's easy to remove by pinching off. If you like, save them to add to a fish stock. It’s not essential to remove the muscle, but it will toughen up as the scallop cooks. So, for the most perfect tender scallops, remove the muscle before cooking.
Seared Scallops With Celery and Golden Raisin Salad
It's simple enough for every day and elegant enough to start a special meal. The combination of rich scallops with crunchy celery and sweet golden raisins is sublime. It's worth seeking out dry-packed scallops for this quick recipe so you can get a good sear.
Sea Scallops Over Shallot-Herb Pasta
Grilled sea scallops are prepared separately and then tossed with spaghetti in herb-coated spaghetti. Using skewers helps keep the scallops in line on the grill.
Bay scallops are tempting when baked under golden-brown parmesan breadcrumbs. This comforting fall or winter dinner happens to be so quick, it could be a weeknight meal.
Seared Scallops With Shaved Fennel, Cucumber, and Grapefruit
The clean flavors of citrus and cucumber play off rich scallops for a winter starter. Use a mandoline for paper-thin ribbons of cucumber. We recommend the light, plastic Japanese type of mandoline for ease of preparation.
Seared Scallops With Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Hazelnut Vinaigrette
Roasted Brussels sprouts and the flavor of toasted nuts provide scallops with an interesting balance. If hazelnut oil is not in your cabinet, use another nut oil, such as walnut or pumpkin seed oil, or even scatter some toasted hazelnuts or walnuts over the dish at the last minute.
Bay Scallop Po’ Boy With Spicy Mayo
Bay scallops are perfectly suited for a quick toss in seasoned breadcrumbs, and they fry up in a pan in no time. Add a doctored mayo and hot dog buns, and you could almost be sitting on the dock of the bay.
Spaghetti With Bay Scallops, Leeks, and Tarragon
A hint of tarragon and the aroma of leeks and lemon zest cooking in butter will make your kitchen smell heavenly. Water from cooking the pasta is an essential part of finishing this dish because it helps all the ingredients form a luscious sauce in the pan.
Grilled Scallops Wrapped in Prosciutto
Individual morsels like these make special appetizers. Paper-thin slices of prosciutto are wrapped around the scallops and grill more quickly than traditional bacon slices.
Sauteed Scallops Over Spaghetti Squash
Scallops and winter squash may seem like an unlikely pairing, but it really works, especially when they're united with melted butter. In this low-carb dinner, scallops are sautéed with leeks and shallots and served over strands of baked spaghetti squash.
Grilled Scallops With Blistered-Yellow-Pepper Relish
Almonds, smoked paprika, and tender, peeled peppers—a savory relish like this is pure gold. Make it ahead and turn it into a meal with scallops over couscous or a grain of your choice.
Ceviche With Mint and Grapefruit
Ceviche is a miracle of sorts—toss raw seafood in lime juice, and soon it will be “cooked” and ready to eat. Be sure to use the freshest scallops when preparing them this way.
Seared Scallops Niçoise
A medley of peppercorns and a piquant vinaigrette are punchy accents to the sweetness of scallops. This riff on the classic salad Niçoise with tuna makes a special lunch or summer dinner.
Pasta With Scallops, Garlic, Grape Tomatoes, and Parsley
Quick cooking in stages is a great strategy for a pasta dish like this. Start with a bit of chili and garlic in olive oil, then cook scallops with tomatoes; they’ll burst in the pan and release their juices.
Scallops With Sautéed Watercress and Ginger
Rich scallops become a surprisingly light and healthy dinner; ginger and watercress add accents of pepperiness and zing.
Scallops With Crisped Speck and Herbed Lentils
Simply pan-seared scallops served with a handful of baby spinach and warm lentils make a satisfyingly wholesome plate. Add a slice of smoked ham, such as speck, which has been crisped in the pan, for extra flavor and texture.
Pappardelle With Scallops
The extra touch of crisp breadcrumbs against soft, chewy pappardelle pasta and scallops turns this simple pasta into a wonder of textures. Use other fresh egg pasta if pappardelle isn't available.
Scallop, Orange, and Cucumber Kebabs
Scallops are threaded onto skewers along with orange wedges, ginger, and cucumber before they hit the grill. Basting with a honey-orange juice mixture infuses everything with layers of flavor.
Read the original article on Martha Stewart.