Today I bought some dry pack Diver Sea Scallops at Clean Catch. These scallops are hand-harvested by divers on the ocean floor and tend to be less gritty than typical market scallops, which are harvested using a dredge or bottom trawl. Diver scallops are also more ecologically friendly, as the divers do not cause damage to the ocean floor in the harvesting process. They are faster to market than dredge-harvested scallops, which results in much fresher scallops.
When buying large sea scallops you should always buy ‘dry packed’ instead of ‘wet packed’ whenever possible. Dry packed scallops do not have any additives; wet packed scallops have sodium tripolyphosphate (STPP) added to extend their shelf life and increase their weight. This causes the scallop to absorb moisture prior to freezing. When you cook wet packed scallops, the STPP will be released and they will simmer in chemical water instead of searing.
Ask your fish-counter person if they are dry or wet packed. If they don’t know, you can usually tell by the look of the scallop. Dry packed scallops are natural beige or pink hues, while wet packed scallops are plump, bright white and often appear in a milky blob. If you must buy wet packed, make sure to thoroughly rinse and drain them prior to cooking.
Seared Sea Scallops
Scallops must be seared quickly in a very hot pan to avoid overcooking. Searing creates a lovely crust on the outside before the inside toughens. Don’t be concerned about undercooking the inside. Scallops are very delicate, and the high heat of searing will cook them.
1 lb Diver Sea Scallops
Freshly ground Sea Salt
Heat a steel or iron pan over high heat for a couple of minutes. Add a thin layer of canola, or other heat-resistant, oil to the pan. Season the scallops lightly with sea salt. Add the scallops to the pan carefully, you should hear them sizzling or your oil is not hot enough. Do not crowd the scallops, they should be about an inch apart; cook them in batches if necessary.
Don’t touch the scallops for a minute and a half to two minutes, depending on the size of the scallops. The scallops are forming their wonderful crust from the sugars in the scallop browning from the high heat. After the time is up, use tongs to have a look at the first scallop. If it has a nice brown crust, turn your scallops over. If not, check them again in 30 seconds. Cook them for the same amount of time on the other side, and plate them with the asparagus and lemon wedges. Serve immediately.
I love asparagus. It is my favorite vegetable by far. I like it prepared simply, and usually roast is in the oven. I also prefer the thicker stalks to skinny ones; thicker stalks have more flavor and do not have a slightly bitter taste that smaller ones can sometimes have. This recipe is quick, easy, and works well with a time-sensitive main like seared scallops.
1 bunch Asparagus
Freshly ground Sea Salt and Pepper
Heat your oven to 400 deg. Fahrenheit. Prepare your asparagus by rinsing it and breaking off the ends. Hold onto the very bottom of the stalk and snap the stalk; it will break where it needs to.
Put the asparagus on a metal pan, and pour about a 1/8-1/4 cup of olive oil over it. Grind the pepper and salt liberally. Toss the stalks so that all are coated.
Roast in the oven for 10 minutes, depending on the size of the stalks. If they are skinny stalks, check them at 6 minutes. Serve with lemon wedges.