26. You know what that number has to do with scallops? Yes, there is a god, scallops are 26 calories each. You know what that makes scallops? The most delicious low calorie food in the universe. (If you can think of something more delicious with low calories, please leave it in the comments). If I'm eating in a seafood restaurant, it's likely I'll order scallops. I've had some tasty ones here. Cooking scallops at home is a little tricky and for years I've been disappointed with how my home cooked scallops turn out. Then I had a break through. Here's what I learned.
1. Buy the best scallops you can afford--this means dry, fresh scallops (not frozen). Ask for "dry" scallops that do not have water or chemicals added to them. Most scallops these days come treated with sodium tripolyphosphate, or STP, as it is known. This chemical helps scallops absorb water, extends their shelf life, and destroys their taste. If you buy scallops treated with STP, it will be impossible to get a good sear because as you cook the scallop it will release water and then end up steaming, not searing.
2. Before cooking, pat those lovlies dry and then season with a little salt. When it comes to scallops, water is your enemy.
3. Heat your pan--nonstick will work fine--on high. Add little oil. Oil with the highest smoke point, like canola, is best. Do not use butter, since butter will brown and burn too quickly. (If you would like to add butter for flavor, add it and your aromatics when they are close to done). Let your oil heat to the point where you actually see a little bit of smoke, then place your scallops in the pan.
4. Do not crowd the pan. I usually don't cook more than six scallops at a time. Of course, it depends on the size of your pan. You really would like at least 1.5 inches between each scallop.
5. Be patient. Once you place the scallops in the pan, wait at least two minutes before flipping them, maybe three. You will see the edges starting to brown, that's when you want to flip them. You want to cook scallops about three minutes on each side, but every scallop is different--sometimes it may take a little less, sometimes a little more.
Up next: what to serve with your lovely scallops.