When it comes to seafood, many tend to leave it to the professionals. Little do they know, however, that they can enjoy restaurant-quality seafood in their own homes with ease. With the help of our guide, learn how to cook scallops in three different ways, and then explore our collection of delicious scallop recipes to find amazing ways to turn your education into action.
When buying scallops, you can often choose between fresh and frozen varieties, depending on what's available at your local store. Just because a scallop is frozen doesn't necessarily mean that it's less fresh than the one labelled "fresh." This is where it can be helpful to talk to the fishmonger at the store, as they can give you more information on which of their scallops are freshest.
If you go with fresh scallops, there are two kinds of that you may find at your local grocery store or fishmonger: wet and dry packed. Wet packed scallops are soaked in a solution that whitens them and enables them to hold more water. Ultimately, when you purchase wet packed scallops, you may be paying more by the pound for what amounts to excess water, and that excess water may end up having an effect on the taste and texture of the scallops. If possible, we recommend sticking with dry packed scallops.
When you're picking between individual scallops, go for the ones that are uniform in color, which should be a pearly white, and shape, meaning the scallop shouldn't be shredded, as this can sometimes indicate that the scallop is not very fresh.
There are a few types of scallops: bay scallops, sea scallops and diver scallops. Bay scallops are small scallops that are found in the waters of the north Atlantic. Sea scallops and Diver scallops are large. The difference between sea scallops and diver scallops is in the way they are harvested. Sea scallops are harvested by a net and diver scallops are handpicked by a scuba diver. This is important information when buying and cooking scallops. Bay scallops cook much quicker than sea and diver because of size. Diver scallops are the most expensive of the three.
Compared to other shellfish, scallops are pretty easy to clean for cooking. Just rinse under cool water and pat them dry. While patting them dry you might feel a tough side muscle or “the foot”, It is a small rectangular piece of tissue that is harder than the rest of the scallop. Its muscle fibers run opposite the fibers in the scallop itself. To remove this, just pinch it between your thumb and first-finger, and tear it away. Sometimes “the foot” is removed during harvesting so it may not have to be removed from every scallop.
How to Cook Scallops on the Grill
One method of cooking scallops is to place them on the grill. This can deliver crispy scallops with a little added smoke for taste.
To grill your sea scallops you'll want to skewer them, with two to three scallops on each skewer—this will make it easier to turn them and remove them from the grill. Before you place your scallops on the grill, make sure they are as dry as possible as this will prevent them from sticking the grill's grates, and season them with salt and pepper.
Over medium-high heat, grill your scallops for 7 to 8 minutes, turning them frequently and making sure that they are cooked through evenly. When they are done, the scallops should each be opaque in the center. Top with your favorite sauce or a glaze, and enjoy them while they're hot!
How to Cook Scallops in the Oven
When you're unable to grill, you can still get a great scallop out of the oven or off the stove. To cook your scallops in the oven, preheat the oven to 425°F and season the scallops with the seasonings called for by your recipe. Place a layer of aluminum foil in a shallow baking pan, add your scallops on top of the foil and, when the oven is heated and ready, place the pan in the oven. Cook bay scallops about 10 minutes and sea scallops about 20 minutes.
How to Cook Scallops on the Stove
Searing scallops on the stove is probably the most common way of preparing this delicious shellfish. You can season your scallops or even let them marinate in your favorite sauce ahead of time. Begin by heating a large saucepan over medium heat. Once the pan is hot, add your scallops and stir occasionally, cooking them until they are cooked all the way through. Typically this will take about 3 to 4 minutes on each side, though this will depend on the size of your scallop.
Ways to Enjoy Scallops
One of the great things about scallops is that there's a number of ways to enjoy them, both as an appetizer to kick off a great meal, or as an entrée to pair with the perfect side. Explore some of our scallop recipes to test out your new knowledge of how to cooks scallops and explore new combinations of flavor. You'll find great scallop recipes with pasta, like our Fettuccine Alfredo with Scallops and Peas, and a range of excellent entrées, including Turkey Bacon-Wrapped Scallops with Wilted Spinach.