A heavy skillet is best for searing sea scallops and getting a brown crust. Don't be afraid to get the pan very hot before starting. You can always drop the heat down, but you want the browning both to add flavor to the scallops — and to leave browned bits on the bottom of the pan that you can turn into a sauce. A delicious serving suggestion for seared scallops: Arrange on Creamy Mashed Yukon Gold Potatoes and garnish with Sauteed Asparagus with Prosciutto Crisps and Parmigianno. Alternatively, in the summer, you can pair seared scallops with tomato butter.


Serves 2 

  • 12 large sea scallops, side muscle removed
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly Ground black pepper
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • A few tablespoons or up to 1/3 cup white wine or citrus juice or a mix of water and vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons cold butter
  • Chopped parsley or sliced chives (optional)


1. In a skillet big enough to hold all of the scallops, heat just enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, season one side of each scallop with salt and fresh pepper and add each to the pan, seasoned side down. Season the top side. Cook (without disturbing) for two minutes. (The scallops should be sizzling in the pan; if not, turn your heat up a bit). Using tongs, check the bottoms to see if each is nicely browned. If not, cook for a minute more. Turn over and cook for 1 to 2 minutes more. Remove from the heat.

(Sea scallops vary in size so cooking times are hard to estimate, but err on the side of undercooking rather than overcooking. They firm up and turn white as they cook, but it’s perfectly fine for them to be still slightly pink in the middle. With practice on your stove with your pan, you can learn what your optimal cooking time is. The key, though, to extra flavor, is the browning, so starting with a hot pan is important.)

2. Transfer the scallops to two warm dinner plates and return the hot skillet to medium-low heat. Add the liquids to the pan and stir with a wooden spoon to scrape up all of the browned bits (a few seconds). Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cold butter until creamy. Pour and scrape the sauce over the scallops. Garnish with herbs, if using.