Perfectly Seared Sea Scallops

Perfectly Seared Sea Scallops

  • Servings: 2 main course portions (6 scallops each) or 4 appetizer portions (3 scallops each)
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12 dry sea scallops, thoroughly thawed
2 tablespoons vegetabel oil
Pinch or 2 of kosher salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Lay thawed scallops out on paper towel and pat tops with another paper towel until dry; leave to dry for 5 minutes. This step removes excess water, which can be hazardous when searing. Once dry, sprinkle the top of each scallop with kosher salt.

Add oil to a medium saute pan and heat over medium-high heat until pan is very hot and oil just begins to smoke. Add the scallops carefully to the pan, one by one to prevent splattering. DO NOT TOUCH scallops for at least one minute, or they will not properly caramelize.

After a good minute, use tongs to gently lift the edge of each scallop to check if it has achieved a rich, golden brown color. If ready, turn each scallop over and repeat.

If the scallop appears too light, continue searing for one more minute, being careful that the scallops do not blacken. If this starts to happen, remove pan from heat immediately and turn scallops over.

Once golden brown on both sides, reduce heat to medium-low and add butter. Melt butter completely throughout pan, lifting pan to spread butter if needed. Once melted, turn each scallop so that both sides are buttered. Serve immediately with Basil Cream Pesto and Caramelized Red Onions.

To present, pour the basil pesto cream sauce onto plate or platter and place scallops evenly around dish. Add caramelized red onions between each scallop or in the center.


  • To thaw frozen scallops, place in refrigerator for 24-48 hours until thoroughly thawed.
  • Buy only dry scallops when searing, as wet, or “soaked,” scallops have too much liquid.
  • DO NOT TOUCH scallops for a solid minute once they are placed in the pan, or have been turned, as this will prevent proper caramelization.

Caramelized Sea Scallops with Basil Cream Pesto & Caramelized Red Onions