From America's Test Kitchen Season 6: Seafood Classics
Attempts to make perfectly seared, caramelized sea scallops usually result in overcooking these tender mollusks, rendering them rubbery and tough. We wanted a concentrated, nutty, rich-colored crust encasing an interior of sweet, creamy, perfectly cooked scallop meat. And for a complete meal, we wanted to incorporate our scallops into a main course salad that would be both elegant and satisfying.
We tackled the scallops first: To get scallops with a crusty exterior, using the unprocessed variety is a must. We found it was essential to dry the scallops thoroughly before adding them to the pan, to further guard against the scallops steaming rather than searing. Equally important is to avoid crowding the pan. We cooked the scallops in batches, browning each batch on just one side, then returned them all to the skillet at once to cook through on the other side, so that each salad would have hot, not tepid, scallops.
For the salad, we liked baby spinach and watercress for easy prep and moist, tender greens. A bright dressing with sherry vinegar and fresh orange complemented the rich scallops. For a finishing touch, toasted sliced almonds lent our salad nutty flavor and welcome crunch.
Serves 8 as first course, 4 as main course
Sea scallops can vary dramatically in size from 1 to 1 1 /2 ounces each. A dinner portion, therefore, can range from 4 to 6 scallops per person. To ensure that the scallops cooks at the same rate, be sure to buy scallops of similar size. To remove the small, firm tendon from the scallop, gently tug at it -- it should easily peel away, (see illustration below).