Seared scallops with a delicious lemon garlic sauce. For maximum flavor and texture, I brine them first. After a brief sear, I make a simple pan sauce using all the amazing flavors leftover. It’s a gourmet meal all made in one pan!

Let’s forgo expensive restaurants and make elegant seared scallops right at home. Often times it can be a bit intimidating to tackle seafood, but I’m going to break down the process and show you how to do it. It’s not as hard as it seems. I’ve added in one extra simple step to ensure that scallops are super flavorful and don’t dry out.

I find that a brine enhances the naturally sweet and light saltwater flavor of scallops. To get a nice caramelized surface, we’re going to thoroughly dry the scallops then sear in a hot pan without moving them. A creamy lemon garlic sauce is made right in the same skillet for extra flavor to drizzle on top.

Brine scallops in salt water.
Dry scallops with paper towels.
Heat a large pan with olive oil.
Sear scallops for 3 minutes.
Flip and baste with butter.
Remove scallops and saute garlic.
Add lemon juice and zest.
Turn off heat, whisk in mustard and cream.
Garnish with dill and pepper.

Why do you brine scallops before cooking?
Brining scallops in a salt solution helps to more deeply season them inside, not just on the surface while retaining moisture. They are very lean in protein with little fat. Without the insulation, there’s a greater chance for them to become rubbery and dry. The saltwater adds a little extra insurance, and only take 10 minutes.

How do you get a golden color on the scallops?
To achieve the attractive caramel kissed surface, the scallops must be as dry as possible. Use plenty of paper towels to soak up the moisture after brining. This ensures the scallops will brown instead of steam when they hit the hot pan. Further drying them uncovered in the refrigerator can also help remove extra moisture.

I found that stainless steel or cast iron gives a nice deep color, however, nonstick pans work well too but should not be used over high heat. Basting the scallops in the final minutes of cooking with butter adds a little extra boost of vibrancy. The milk proteins and lactose in the butter brown which sticks to the outside for an irresistible crust.


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