Seared Scallops

This is one of my father’s favorite dishes, so I have tried to perfect it for him.  I have tinkered with this recipe for some months and I think I have it down to a science.  Try this.


  • 2 pounds fresh sea scallops (the really big ones)
  • 2 tablespoons bacon fat
  • 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup clam broth or white wine or a combination
  • salt – no salt until you taste the finished product, scallops are already salty from the sea and you don’t want to ruin your artwork with too much salt!  Hold off until the end, taste and decide.

The most important thing about searing scallops is that they must be absolutely dry or they will not sear.  And scallops are a bit fragile, so you don’t want to overly press the liquid out.  I like to gently place the scallops in a strainer and let them hang out for about 15 minutes or so.  Then, lay them out, individually on double paper towels.  Pat them, gently, with another double layer of paper towels. 

Now, this might seem counter to everything I’m telling you about drying them out, but after you have patted them very dry, drizzle a bit of the lemon juice on each scallop.  Just a bit.  The lemon juice will carmelize with the fat in the pan and accelerate the sear.  So, while you’re at it, sprinkle a bit of garlic powder on each of the scallops.  I have tried working with varying fresh garlic techniques, but it always burns in the pan, so try my garlic powder trick for this one.

Let the scallops hang out for half and hour or so with the lemon juice and garlic powder before giving them one more gentle pat with the paper towels.  Heat the bacon fat in a large frying pan.  Do not use a “non-stick” pan.  Non-stick pans prevent searing, so use a regular fry pan.  Heat the bacon fat until very hot, but not smoking.  Place each scallop into the hot fat and cook, uncovered for about 3 minutes.  Use a flat metal spatula to carefully scrape each scallop and flip.  Continue cooking the other side for another 3 minutes.  The time will vary depending on the thickness of your scallops.  Best to under cook a scallop than to over cook.  Err on the side of raw.  They continue to cook while plated.

After the second side has cooked and seared for about 3 minutes, squeeze more fresh lemon juice all around the pan.  This will accelerate the searing, if it has not already happened.  Before removing the scallops, pour the clam broth or white wine or combination into the hot fry pan to de-glaze the pan.  Let the scallops enjoy the steamy, brothy spa treatment for a minute or two before removing them to a platter.  Continue to cook the pan liquids until reduced to a lovely pan sauce, for about 5 minutes or so.

Serve scallops with a drizzle of the reduced pan sauce and watch your guests smack their lips.  yummm… yummmm… yummmm

When are you coming to dinner Dad?


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