Updated: Oct 2, 2020
In continuing our efforts to share with you the best way to prepare various types of Maine seafood, here are some ideas for making scallops. I prepared smoked scallops for the first time yesterday and they were amazing. You can see what I did below.
But, you don't have to smoke scallops to make them amazing. Maine scallops are in and of themselves amazing. For one thing, they are "dry scallops" meaning they haven’t been treated with a phosphate solution to absorb moisture and increase the cost per pound. Second, Maine fishermen are amazing and we love supporting their hard work. Third, for us Mainers, they are the freshest and best option.
Here are some suggestions for scallops.
Sear them in a cast iron pan. Get the pan super hot and sear the scallops on both sides. It should only take about a minute or two on each side. Remove them from the pan and let them rest for a few minutes and you're good to go.
Sear them in a non-stick pan. Same as cooking them in a cast iron pan but add a bit of fat like oil or butter to the pan. (I like to use both butter and oil to increase the smoking point.) You want the pan to be really hot so it sears the scallops and they get a nice crust on them.
Wrap them in bacon. Bacon needs more time to cook than scallops and it can burn a bit easier than scallops. There are a few things that you can do to prevent this: 1.) Par-cook the bacon but make sure not to cook it all the way so you can still easily wrap it around the scallop; 2.) Wrap the scallops in bacon and put them on a baking sheet in a cold oven. Set the temperature to about 425. Once the oven comes to temperature it should take about 5-10 minutes but keep an eye on them; 3.) Just cook the bacon and scallops separately and then serve them together.
Smoke them in a smoker! As I said, I tried this recently and I may make them this way from now on. Set the smoker to 200 and when it comes to temperature put your scallops in. I put the scallops in a grilling basket because, well, it's just easier. It took about 20-30 minutes to cook them and I kept an eye on them and occasionally turned some of the bigger ones and moved them around. Before I smoked the scallops I did a super quick marinade in lemon zest and lemon juice, about half a lemon. Seriously, no more than 90 seconds because the acidity of the lemon starts to cook the scallops.
Cook them however you'd like and serve them with chimichurri or salsa or maple syrup or THIS mango avocado dip that I make and put on everything. I served my lemony smoked scallops with chimichurri from Vessel and Vine and I have been eating that ever since; for dinner last night and breakfast and lunch today.
However you cook scallops, it's important to pay attention to where they sit on your heating source. Scallops can be smaller, medium, maybe bigger and therefore cook at varying speeds. Place the bigger scallops directly over the heat source and the smaller scallops further away from the heat source.
Scallops are good raw, cooked, cold, and reheated. They freeze better than any other seafood and can still be served raw after they have been frozen. (If you are choosing to eat them raw, I'd advise knowing your source.)
Like with other types of seafood, if you aren't going to eat them right away put them on a tray of ice in your fridge or freeze them. Seafood loves the cold. (Think about how cold the Gulf of Maine is.)
Lastly, don't forget to remove the adductor muscle from the scallop. It looks a bit whiter than the rest of the scallop and easily peels off just using your hands. It is perfectly safe to eat but is much tougher than the rest of the scallop and it can be rather off-putting.
Where you can find scallops right now.