Easy, not easy

Bay scallops are delicious and available now, but cook them with care.


Living on an Island affords you many things that I love. Lovely beaches, laid-back lifestyle, and incredible freshly caught seafood. Currently, it is scallop season, and this week I reaped the benefits of the aforementioned. A friend of mine works on a scalloping boat, and gifted me a generous quantity of scallops he had harvested just the day before. There is nothing better than fresh seafood, and I love scallops — they are at the top of the list. Local bay scallops are delicious. Cooking scallops is easy in two very different ways. One way is that they are simple to cook. The other way is that they are also easy to overcook (and/or undercook). Basically, they require tender care and a quick sear. Preparation is more time-consuming than actually cooking them, but all in all, it may take 30 minutes or less to complete the whole process.

There are many ways to make scallops — fried, baked, grilled — but to me the best way is to sear them in a cast iron skillet. Scallops are very receptive to whatever seasoning you prefer, but I suggest keeping it simple, as the sweet scallop meat should be enjoyed unaltered.


kosher salt
seasoning (to your liking)
oil and/or butter
garlic (one or two cloves)
cast iron skillet
lemon or chopped parsley for garnish

The first step for preparing scallops is drying them off. Liberally salt your scallops, put them on a paper towel, and cover them with another paper towel to absorb the moisture on both sides. Let them sit for 15 minutes or so. (Pro tips: It’s good to have them get to room temperature before searing, and also be sure to separate each individual scallop for step one — this helps dry them more efficiently.)

After the scallops have dried, season them to your liking. I just use salt and a little pepper going into the sear, but you can use whatever dry seasoning you prefer. In the cast iron pan (any pan will do, but I prefer cast iron as it holds and disperses heat evenly), heat the pan coated with a thin layer of olive oil (just enough to cover or “grease” the pan). Then just before the scallops go in, I put chopped garlic in to flavor the oil a bit. When you can drip a couple of drops of water into the oil and it pops, the scallops are ready to go in (high heat).

Place the scallops in individually so they aren’t touching, or “steaming” one another. I like this process because by the time you have placed the last scallop individually, it’s time to turn the first ones over, cooking them just a couple of minutes on each side. I add a pat of butter between the turns to add another depth of flavor to the process.

What you want is a golden, caramelized, crispy sear on both sides, and sweet, soft, and tender meat in the center. After cooking the scallops, drizzle with lemon and/or chopped parsley for color if you like, and serve immediately. Enjoy!