Pan-Seared Sea Scallops with Citrus Butter

March 9th, 2010

Sometimes the beauty of a dish is in the plating. It helps if it is also delicious. We are trying to savor our food more, eat slowly, and appreciate the beauty of what we are eating. It helps to light candles, set a pretty table and get rid of the distractions of the latest news frenzy. Music is also a good idea. We have many favorites; Patsy Cline, Billie Holiday, Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, and Raul Malo’s You’re Only Lonely CD. He has a voice with the haunting range of Roy Orbison. But I think I am dating myself with this list, and we are looking like Country Western nuts, which we really aren’t. We have a very eclectic taste in music, but for some reason this is what we like to listen to while dining. I would like to hear what kind of music all of you like to hear on a relaxed evening.

Sea scallops are so rich and succulent. You don’t need many to feel satisfied. If you can find Diver’s scallops you are in for a real treat. Most sea scallops are harvested by dredging the sea bottom for the scallop shells. The problem with this is that it disturbs and displaces the natural vegetation while gathering the scallops. Diver’s scallops are harvested by real divers who pluck them from their resting places in the sea. They are less gritty and the process does not disturb the ecosystem. Bay scallops, which are smaller than sea scallops, are in short supply today because of the loss of sea grasses near our shores where they like to attach. Developments on our beaches have reduced the vegetation needed to nurture bay scallops.

Sarah Foster, one of my favorite chefs, and restauranteurs has a great recipe for sea scallops with I have adapted for our weight loss program. Scallops are so flavorful on their own that they lend themselves to simple preparations. This is a quick and effortless dinner.


1 1/2 pounds large sea scallops (about 24)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black bepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
Juice of 2 oranges
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons lemon zest

Rinse the scallops under cool water, pat dry with a paper towel, and place them in a shallow bowl or on a plate. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, sprinkle with salt, black pepper, and cayenne, and toss gently to coat.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the butter with the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium- high heat until the butter melts and sizzles. Working in batches, place the scallops in the hot skillet, leaving about 1/2 inch between each scallop. Sear the scallops, undisturbed for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes per side, until they are opaque and light golden around the edges. The scallops will continue to cook after they’re out of the pan so it’s better to undercook than overcook them. Remove the scallops from the pan, place them on a platter, and cover looselhy with foil to keep warm. Repeat with the second and possibly third batch of scallps. adding more butter or oil to the pan as needed.

When all the scallops are cooked, pour the orange juice, lemon juice, and 1/2 of the lemon zest into the skillet, scrapping up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add any juices that have acculmulated around the scallops. Bring the liquid to a boil over medium-high heat and cook 1 to 2 minutes, until it reduces by half. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the remaining tablespoon fo butter until it melts.

If the scallops have cooled too much, return them to the pan with the sauce to warm very briefly over medium heat before serving. Serve the scallops over rice with the sauce spooned over them and sprinkled with the remaining lemon zest. Serves 4 to 6.

18 responses to “Pan-Seared Sea Scallops with Citrus Butter”

  1. This recipe sounds wonderful! Love Scallops. I didn’t know all of that about the harvesting. Scallops are VERY expensive to buy here in Denver, so I might as well hold off, do the right thing, and watch for those Diver Scallops.

  2. That sounds scrumptious! I love scallops but have never cooked them. Now I am going to try this! Thanks Penny

    p.s. I love listening to Nora Jones, Dean Martin or Frank Sinatra while dining….I do love Patsy Cline and Willie Nelson though

  3. Susan says:

    Penny, love your scallop recipe. Thank you for introducing me to Raul Malo. I have not heard of him, but I do hear the resemblance to Roby Orbison who is a great favorite of ours. P.S. Today is a PERFECT day in Florida.

  4. Linda says:

    This recipe sounds absolutely delicious! I really love scallops and am always looking for a new recipe… thanks!

    I love to hear jazz… anyone…

  5. Delicious!


  6. Mary says:

    These look down right tempting. I love scallops but have never explore making them with citrus. I’ll bet these are wonderful.

  7. Hubs loves scallops, they look delicious!

  8. Lyla says:

    This is an aesthetically perfect meal. It’s art. And never apologize for country music. When it’s great, it’s better than anything. How about K.D.Lang and Roy Orbison? There’s a sound.

  9. Penny, we love sea scallops and always “try” to find the dry-packed ones, although it’s not easy. I’ve fond of Sara Foster also and your scallops with the citrus looks fantastic.

    I was a big Roy Orbison fan in college and still enjoy his music. We saw Waylon and Willie in a live concert in Texas – great time.

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  11. Penny, we had this for dinner tonight and it was FABULOUS! Thank you so much for sharing it! Rachel devoured her scallops, too!

    You know we love all sorts of music, but I’m partial to jazz myself. We also often listen to Norah Jones, Jack Johnson, Amos Lee, Brett Dennan, Sarah Bareilles, and a few others in that same mix at dinner time. If your readers aren’t already using Pandora Radio to queue up their favorite genres/artists, they should!

    Love you!

  12. Scallops are a wonderfully filling and luxurious ingredient. This recipe and the scallops look excellent!

  13. Love the pairing of scallops with citrus; I think they go so well together and your recipe sounds just perfect.

  14. katiez says:

    I love this. I’m not fond of the coral (and I see none on your scallops) and it’s only been recently that I’ve discovered I can buy bags of frozen scallops without coral – much cheaper because, of course, I’m weird for not liking it.
    I just never think of orange…. gotta try this next! Looks fresh and spring-like – I keep hoping!
    As to the music, all winter our music station on TV has been doing specials on Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash, Queen…. which we listen to during dinner. Otherwise, mon mari insists on Mozart or Beethoven…. ;-)) We, too, love it all.

  15. Kate says:

    This is on the list! I came home from work and the Kitchen Gnome tells me that one of the blogs I follow has scallops with citrus and he wants to try it. All he remembered was scallops and North Carolina! Cute. I have printed off the recipe and will let you know how successful I am…or, he is!!

  16. Katy ~ says:

    My mouth is aching for these. This recipe sounds wonderful. Thank you so much for sharing a new and delicious way to prepare scallops. Will be sure to try this. YUMMMMM

  17. Karen says:

    We love scallops and it’s been way too long since we’ve had them! I love to listen to Rod Stewart’s “It Had to be You” during dinner.

  18. Oh Penny I’m glad I found you again… Now I clicked the follow button so I won’t lose you hahaha! Seared scallops and all the lemony flavors and zest on top… hmmm i could feel my salivary glands constricting as I write♥¸¸.•*¨

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