Pan-Seared Scallops with Coffee Vinaigrette – moist and tender scallops with a restaurant level beautiful crust. These are perfect for a nice, quick weeknight gourmet or even as a fancy appetizer.
Early in our marriage my wife and I decided that our kids would eat versions of the same foods ate. For example, as infants they ate non-seasoned pureed vegetables instead of commercial baby food and as they aged we evolved the recipes/dishes to parallel their digestive development. At restaurants they had the choice to order from the big menu instead of the kids one. More often than not they chose the adult menu, especially my son who has been a foodie since about age 3. One of his favorite meals is pan-seared scallops. And yes the snob quotient in this one is at an all time high! Since he was the first of our two kids to start the school year we had these scallops for our back to school dinner. I don’t know about you, but my wife and I are definitely more excited than our kids about school starting…
This pan-seared scallops recipe is quick, simple and tasty as it should be. Scallops should never be complicated. Total cook time is 3-4 minutes total and what you get is a browned crusty exterior and soft translucent center. The flavor and texture are both generated from technique. The key in the searing process is avoiding the temptation to move the scallops in the pan. Don’t disturb their groove and just let the non-stick pan do its job. Trust the process as my old coach would say. Sear each side for a full minute and a half before removing from the pan.
To top you can use any myriad of sauces such as a simple lime butter sauce. I chose to make a “black” aka coffee vinaigrette using some black urfa chili flakes along with ground coffee. I had the good fortune of coming across these at my local spice shop Savory Spice Shop courtesy of a recommendation from the great staff there. Urfa chili flakes are not a common ingredient but their worth it to get (Savory Spice Shop takes on-line orders) for this and other recipes. If not available, another good substitute is ground coffee.
Pan-Seared Scallops Cooking Tips
- Dry your scallops thoroughly before cooking. Moisture is the enemy to that nice brown crust and also is what causes the scallops to stick.
- Keep your hands to yourself! Resist the urge to check on the scallops by moving them around in the pan and picking them up
- Don’t crowd the pan with too many scallops. An overcrowded pan leads to reduced temperatures and more moisture which again you want to absolutely avoid. You’re better off cooking smaller amounts in batches
- Look for scallops that have a fleshy, translucent white or pale tan color. Avoid pale, milky white scallops that have likely been sitting in liquids
- If cooking with butter, use clarified vs. regular as it has a higher smoke point and works better for browning. Regular butter will burn at the high heat and lead to black spots on the surface of the scallops
- Season generously, but wait until you are ready to cook (adding salt will draw out moisture).
What types of scallops should I buy?
If choosing the right scallops were only as easy as cooking! Scallops come in different sizes and have different names – bay, sea, diver, and jumbo. You want the larger scallops labeled as sea, jumbo, king, great, diver, Alaskan, etc. The larger the surface area makes it easier to get the brown crust and tender center.
Can I Use Frozen Scallops?
Yes, using frozen scallops is acceptable. You’ll just need to take some precaution when de-frosting. Defrosting properly is key to retaining their fresh texture and taste. I prefer to place the scallops on a baking sheet in a single layer, cover, and refrigerate. Then follow procedures to dry the scallops before cooking.
Pan-seared scallops with coffee vinaigrette
If you make these tender, succulent pan-seared scallops please come back and leave me a comment below with your feedback. Definitely take a photo of the dish and be sure to tag #foodfidelity so that I can see them. You can also keep up with my food exploits as well as original recipes! You can find me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitte
Pan Seared Scallops with Coffee Vinaigrette
Simple and quick pan-seared scallops recipe elevated with unique coffee vinaigrette. The coffee adds a modern twist to tried and true recipe.
- 8 large sea scallops
- 1 teaspoons clarified butter
- 1 tbsp canola oil
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
Remove the small side muscle from the scallops and wash with cold water.
Place scallops on baking sheet and dry both sides thoroughly with a dry towel and let reach room temperature/
Season scallops on both sides with salt and pepper.
Heat oil and butter in nonstick skillet over high heat until just smoking.
Sear the scallops for 1 1/2 minutes on each side. The scallops should have a 1/4-inch golden crust on each side.
Serve immediately with black chile vinaigrette (recipe below)
- 1 teaspoon coffee very finely ground
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
Combine dry ingredients and vinegar in a non-reactive mixing bowl. Slowly whisk in olive oil until well incorporated. Store in refrigerator until ready to serve.