Simple Seared Scallops

Well hello there, it’s been a while since we last saw each other. You may have thought I was merely rendered comatose for a few weeks after those Funfetti Sandwich Cookies, which isn’t exactly untrue. But no, I’m finally resettling into my cozy food blog-o-sphere after a bit of crazy work, vacation, and R&R.

Simple Seared Scallops | Dash of Texas

Like a freight train, both day job and nighttime freelance work came out of nowhere and sucked the free time out of both my soul and the boy’s earlier this month. Finally, the light is at the end of the tunnel, and we’re both settling back into a normal routine.

Just before that, we traipsed in a caravan of three cars up to Colorado with the boy’s side of the family. Gorgeous – just gorgeous. I had never been to Colorado before (or at least past the age of three), and I loved it. We nestled ourselves in a cabin deep in the mountains about 45 minutes outside of Boulder. Of all we did on the trip, I feel like I was visually soaking in everything more than anything else. Every car ride, every little hike, every stroll down Pearl Street – I was looking and making mental pictures of the towering mountains and delightfully hipster locals. We’re already plotting a return trip as a solo duo, and it can’t come soon enough. I found a three story book store in downtown Boulder that I’ve been dreaming about ever since I left it.

Simple Seared Scallops | Dash of Texas

Simple Seared Scallops | Dash of Texas

But vacation is over, work is steadying, and it’s high time to get back to what I love… food. And pictures of food. And quirky musings that you may or may not read and you may or may not enjoy.

Our first meal back home was this skillet o’scallops. I am not adventurous with fish, nor do I love it as food group, but geez I love these. I only tried my first sea scallops a few years ago, and it took me a while to accept the delicious, unique, sweet flavor as just that – and not some weird after effect of a fish being a fish (or a mollusk or clam or whatever it is). Once I broke through those mental barriers, the gates of foodie heaven swung open.

They’re not exactly cheap. We get our large sea scallops for about $20 a pound in the Austin area, but they are worth it for a special dinner or particular craving. To cook them, I follow Gordon Ramsay. Hate him if you will, but if you watch his older British shows or any of his cooking shows where he’s simply talking and cooking in front of a camera with no one to scream at nearby, it’s incredible. Try it – especially Gordon’s Great Escape.

Simple Seared Scallops | Dash of Texas

Simple Seared Scallops | Dash of Texas

Get the skillet piping hot. As hot as you can make it. I’ve read more intricate recipes that have you pat the scallops dry, leave them uncovered in the fridge overnight, etc… because you want to evaporate the moisture out of it asap to get a crisp sear like some restaurants do. You can look into that more, but we did ours in a very no-fuss way – straight out of the brown wrapping paper and into the pan.

So your pan is super hot with a bit of olive oil in it. Now you generously salt one side. So generously that your spouse raises their eyebrows and asks if you’re trying to make their blood pressure medicine work overtime. It’s okay, Gordon says, because you lose about a third of that seasoning once it goes in the pan. Next, place those beauts seasoned side down in an orderly fashion in the pan, starting at 12 o’clock, 1 o’clock, 2 o’clock, and so on. Once they’re all in, you season the side facing up. A few minutes after they’ve sizzled their hearts away, you flip’em over, starting back at 12 o’clock and moving clockwise. Another few minutes or so and they’re ready, on a plate, and in your belly. Soooo simple.

Simple Seared Scallops | Dash of Texas

If you like yours a bit crispy on the tops and bottoms, simply leave them in the pan longer on each side. They stay amazingly tender, even if you cook the outside to an almost brown crisp. We spent about 6 minutes on each side, but dependent on how very very hot you can get your pan, you could use less – simply take a gentle peek to check the sear.

So there it is. Our super simple welcome-back-home meal to ourselves. They make for a great date night meal, or a healthy dinner that’s calorically guilt-free, but still lets you treat yo’self. (I’ve also been catching up on reruns on Parks and Rec. And I offer no apologies.)

Simple Seared Scallops
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
  • 1 lb good quality sea scallops (about 12 or 13 total)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Add the olive oil to the skillet and heat over high heat until the pan is very, very hot.
  2. Season one side of the scallops generously with salt, and a few cranks of fresh pepper.
  3. Starting at the top of the pan (12 o'clock), place the scallops seasoned side down and continue around in a clockwise fashion, until all of the scallops are in there.
  4. While the first side is cooking, season the up-facing side generously with salt, and a few more cranks of pepper.
  5. Let the first side cook until it reaches a nice, golden sear. Dependent on how you like your scallops or how hot your pan can get, this may take more or less time. Ours took about 6 minutes on each side. Once the first side is done, flip gently with tongs or a spoon, starting with the first one you placed in (12 o'clock) and moving clockwise.
  6. Let the second side sear until done. Serve hot.


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