Jul 14, 2013

Seared Scallop Pasta

Before my affair with food started, I didn't know anything about choosing the right ingredients. I didn't know it mattered what brand of soy sauce I buy and I definitely didn't know anything about buying scallops. I ate bright white frozen scallops, drenching them in sauce, not knowing they could be better. I started reading about scallops and here's what I learned. I learned that scallops that are white are actually treated. Scallops that haven't been treated actually have a pinkish or off-white color. Frozen scallops are sometimes treated with chemicals to make it white. Because they're treated with chemicals, they become awfully watery when you cook them, which only means you're paying a high premium for water!! To make sure you're buying chemically free scallops, look for "dry" scallops or chemical free scallops. I like to buy my scallops from Kokua Market, they're a bit more expensive there, but no water comes out of them and they taste really really good. If for some reason, you're can't find "dry" scallops, try this before you use the scallops. This tip comes from Cook's Illustrated.

Soak them in a solution of 1 quart cold water, 1/4 cup lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons table salt for 30 minutes. Place scallops on a piece of paper towel and microwave on high for 15 seconds. This will exude the water from the scallops allowing for a nice sear.

Armed with these great scallops, I made this scallop pasta. It's my best scallop recipe yet!! This recipe is adapted from a Lemon Ricotta Pasta from Crumb and from Cook's Illustrated. The original recipe calls for ricotta, but I didn't have any on hand, so I substituted with some heavy cream. It was really good, slightly creamy with a bit of tang from the lemon. I love it!! Try it!

Seared Scallop Pastas
adapted from Crumb and Cook's Illustrated

1 lb of pasta of your choice
1 1/2 lbs large sea scallops, 10 to 12
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp butter
3 tbsp good-quality olive oil, divided
1 tbsp butter
Zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 1/2 cups green peas
2 tbsp fresh thyme, minced (see note)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup of heavy cream (see note)

1. Cook the pasta per package directions until al dente.

2. Place scallops on rimmed baking sheet lined with a clean kitchen towel. Place a second clean towel on top and gently press to blot liquid. Let scallops sit for 10 minutes at room temperature while the towels absorb excess moisture.

3. Sprinkle scallops on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 12 inch, nonstick skillet over high heat until just smoking. Add half of the scallops in a single layer and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes without moving until well browned.  Add 1 tablespoon butter to the skillet. Carefully flip scallops and continue to cook. Tilt the skillet so that the butter collects on one side and use a large spoon to baste the scallops with melted butter. Cook 30 to 90 seconds more until the sides of the scallops are firm and the centers are opaque Remove smaller scallops from the pan as they finish cooking, transfer to a
large plate, and tent loosely with foil. Wipe out skillet with a wad of paper towels and repeat cooking with remaining oil, scallops, and butter.

4. Drain pasta and return to the pot over low heat. Stir in lemon zest, juice, remaining 3 tbsp olive oil, peas, and thyme. Toss to coat, then season with salt and lots of pepper. Add the heavy cream and mix gently until pasta is coated evenly.

5. To serve, divide the pasta between four plates, topping each with scallops.


  • Original recipe calls for 4 tbsp fresh thyme.  I only used 2 tbsp.
  • Original recipe calls for 1 container (475g) of ricotta, I substituted with heavy cream.  

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