Pan-Seared Sea Scallops

Serves: 2-4


  • Large flat bottom pan (splatter screen couldn’t hurt)
  • Tongs
  • Large flat plate
  • Sieve


  • 1lb Sea Scallops thawed (abductor muscles removed, it’s the thin vertical strip and it just pinches off)
  • 2-3 Tbs of sweet unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ¼ cup Real Salt (yes it matters, this stuff is way more complex than just sea salt)
  • ¼ cup fresh ground peppercorn medley (usually a blend of black, white, green and red)
  • Balsamic Glace (I usually have Colavita with a pour spout)
  • 1 Lemon (bonus points if Meyer’s Lemon)


First, get your mise sorted out…

  1. Run the pepper through a grinder or mortar and pestle, you want it fairly coarse, then mix with the salt in a container and set aside. You won’t use all of it, but this mix is great for a lot of dishes.
  2. Get your serving plate and sprinkle a thin layer of that mix on it and set aside.
  3. Zest the entire lemon (no pith) into a pinch bowl, then cut in half and set aside.
  4. Rinse the scallops in a sieve and pat them dry on a towel. You don’t want extra moisture.
    1. If you’re feeling industrious, reserved the thawed liquor to use in a fish stock.

Now the cooking…

  1. Set your pan on the stove at med-high/high heat and drop your butter (or oil), just enough to wet the bottom of the whole pan.
  2. When the pan is sizzling hot, place enough scallops in so that each has about 2cm between them. Doing this with your hands is way faster
  3. WATCH THEM CLOSELY, you will see the brown mark at the very bottom and an opaque line going up the scallop.
  4. Flip each scallop with tongs when that opaque line gets to the about ⅓ of the way up from the bottom. If that seared side isn’t brown and crispy looking, your heat is not high enough.
  5. WATCH again… push down on the scallop with your finger, it should feel like the tip of your nose if you pushed it towards your face. The opaque line will come up from the bottom, do not let it meet the other side, pull them off just before they are done cooking.
  6. Set the finished scallops on the seasoned plate, best side up.
  7. Brush or place a bit of zest on each one
  8. Squeeze about half the lemon on from about 30cm (~1ft) up to get even coverage.
  9. Take your bottle of Glace and from the same height do a quick thin ribbon of glace over the plate
  10. Let them rest for a few seconds

People actually line up to get this shit right out of the pan when I’m cooking it. It’s that good.

Love, Jimi


  • If the scallop is tough, you finished cooking it in the pan, and then it overcooked itself on the plate. You must pull fish (or any seared meat) off the heat before it’s done cooking. There are no “times” for pan seared or grilled seafood, you need to touch it and feel how done it is.
  • To do this properly, you should use butter in the pan, but if you’re trying to make it low fat, low cholesterol, then use olive oil.

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