Pan Seared Scallops with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Lemon Caper Butter Sauce
I am trying to think back to the first time I tried scallops…I must have been very young because I can’t remember a time when I didn’t eat them, but I do remember the first time I saw one in the wild. I was about 15 years old and “snorkeling” in Menempsa bay in Martha’s Vineyard. It wasn’t the most beautiful place to snorkel with the vast amount of seaweed and horseshoe crabs, but in the shallow water perfect scalloped shells danced around you. I remember being absolutely fascinated when I learned those shells contained the scallops that I loved so much.
Scallops are really one of those perfect foods; delicate, sweet, and easy to prepare! I use large sea scallops for this recipe.
Cooking the Scallops:
I’m not a snob about whether the scallops are fresh or previously frozen; I just want to eat scallops! Start by padding your scallops dry with a paper towel. Then dust them lightly in salt, pepper and flour. I like to sear them with a small amount of flour because it really helps to form a nice crust on the scallop and prepares the pan with a residual roux that will help to thicken your sauce.
It is best to let the scallops come to room temperature before throwing them in the pan. Once they are dusted and at room temperature add them to a hot pan with about 1 Tbs of olive oil or enough to just cover the bottom of your pan. I mentioned in the Blackened Salmon recipe the importance of adding fish/seafood to a hot pan with hot oil so that it sears and doesn’t suck—The oil that is! You don’t want to cook on really high heat because you’ll burn the flour, so once your pan is hot turn it down to medium high heat.
Cook the scallops on each side until they are golden brown or about 2-3 minutes each side. The time really varies depending on how big your scallop is. Your scallop is done cooking when the transparent look has changed to opaque. The only tricky part is to make sure and not over cook the scallop because it becomes a rubbery mess.
Cooking the Sauce:
I like to prepare the other ingredients and have them ready before I start cooking the scallops because once the scallops are done you remove them from the pan and start throwing in the other ingredients to make your sauce.
Turn down the heat to Medium.
Toss in the garlic, sun dried tomatoes, and capers. The garlic cooks quickly so just let it sweat for about 30 seconds. Then squeeze your lemon into the pan to stop the cooking. It will reduce very fast and will not be enough liquid to create a sauce so I add ¼ cup of dry white wine or vegetable/chicken stock. It is tasty either way. Let that reduce for a minute or two (this will depend on if you threw in cold wine or stock….Reduce longer if it stopped boiling completely. Stop reducing when it has actually reduced). Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in 1/2 to 1 Tbs. of butter (salted or unsalted -I usually use salted). This will lighten up the citrus taste and make the sauce richer. This is a good time to take a taste and add any salt or pepper if needed.
Place the scallops on a plate and ladle over the sauce. I served this dish with garlic infused couscous, and sauteed zucchini and yellow squash. Both side dishes are nice and light and complement the scallops and sauce well.
For two servings:
6 Large Sea Scallops
2 Tbs. Flour
2 Tbs. Capers
¼ C. Sun Dried Tomatoes
½ Tbs. of Chopped Garlic
¼ C. Dry White Wine or Vegetable/Chicken Stock
1 Tbs. of Butter (salted or unsalted)
Salt and Pepper to taste