The Perfect Sear
December 06, 2012
Plumping may be fine for the turkeys over at Butterball, but it's not good for scallops. If you want a perfect seared scallop, you've got to start with a "dry" one. That is, the scallop should not be doused with sodium tripolyphosphate, or anything else for that matter. I hope I don't have to tell you that at Mac's our scallops are always totally au naturel.
Here on Cape Cod, local Atlantic sea scallops are extra-sweet this time of year. They're delicious seared then sauced with nothing more than their buttery pan juices. But get with the season and set them on a smear of warm cauliflower puree or a spoonful of turnip-fingerling hash, then add a few caramelized shitake mushrooms or browned bites of pancetta, and you can turn two or three scallops into a fancy-looking first course for your holiday table.
If you happen to get really big ones, a single scallop is enough. One perfect scallop looks great on the plate. I like to score them before I sear them, like this:
No matter how you decide to plate them, the main thing is to get the sear right. Here's my technique:
Perfect Seared Scallops
Good local dry scallops will wow people even if all you do is sear them and serve with nothing more than their pan juices. So instead of a recipe, here's how to get that perfect sear:
1. Use a well-seasoned cast iron skillet––that black surface really helps with getting a well-caramelized, even crust on the scallop. If you don't have cast iron, a good heavyweight skillet can work, but non-stick pans just aren't great for searing.
2. Have unsalted butter on hand, softened to room temperature before you start.
3. Give the pan a light coating of olive oil and let it get nice and hot––you want it just under the point of smoking.
4. While the pan heats, pat the scallops dry with a kitchen towel or paper towel and sprinkle them with sea salt.
5. Smear one side of each scallop with a generous dab of butter and place them, buttered side down in the hot skillet. Don't over-crowd them in the pan. They need a few inches of space around them or they'll steam in their juices and won't sear well. Better to cook them in batches, if need be.
6. The first minute: let the scallops sizzle: they'll seem to stick, then unstick from the surface of the pan. Give them a nudge once that's happened, letting them pick up more of the browning pan juices.
7. If you want to amp up the flavor, now's the time to add a spoonful of minced shallot or garlic and sprinkle on a pinch of fresh thyme.
8. The second minute: add a little more butter to the pan. Baste the scallops with the melted butter. Once they're caramelized and turning opaque around the edges, they're almost cooked through.
9. A final minute or two: flip the scallops and turn off the fire. Let them sit to finish cooking, another minute or two, depending on their size.
10. Plate the scallops straight up or set them on anything from pureed parsnips in winter to fresh corn succotash in summer. Bacon is always nice. Use the buttery pan juices as your sauce.
- November 25, 2019
Feast of the Seven Fishes Holiday Wine Dinner
- November 12, 2019
All You Can Eats Fish ‘N Chips
- September 30, 2019
Oct 30 Wine Dinner - NOPI
- August 28, 2019
Mac’s Lobster Clambake TO GO for your Labor Day Celebration
- August 08, 2019
The New York Times Loves Mac’s Shack!
- April 12, 2019
The Shack is Back!
- March 08, 2019
A Taste of South Africa Wine Dinner March 13
- February 14, 2019
A Taste of Italy Wine Dinner Feb 27
- January 28, 2019
A Taste of Mexico Wine Dinner Feb 6
- January 10, 2019
A Taste of France Wine Dinner Jan 16
- December 18, 2018
New Year’s Eve at Mac’s
- August 22, 2018
Book your next event at Mac’s Fish House in Provincetown
- May 29, 2018
Wellfleet Restaurant Week at Mac’s Shack
- January 10, 2018
Mac’s Winter to Spring Wine Dinners
- January 03, 2017
Mac’s Fish House Provincetown Winter to Spring Dinner Series
- September 19, 2016
New Year’s Eve Dinner & Live Music at Mac’s Fish House Provincetown
- June 28, 2016
Story of a Fishing Family
- January 04, 2016
All You Can Eat Fish & Chips $15 Every Thurs at Mac’s
- December 16, 2015
New Year’s Eve Menu + Other Holiday Happenings at Mac’s
- November 06, 2015
Get Your Thanksgiving To Go at Mac’s
- October 23, 2015
Support our local Fishermen at the Dish On Fish Benefit - Mac’s Ptown - Nov 4
- October 19, 2015
Devil’s Purse Beer Dinner Oct 21 at Mac’s Ptown - RESERVE TODAY!
- September 29, 2015
Wine & Swine Dinner Oct 7 in Ptown - Reserve today!
- September 23, 2015
Fall Dinner Series at Mac’s Fish House Provincetown - RESERVE TODAY!
- July 17, 2015
Introducing our Small Batch Label - a new way to try a little taste of Mac’s
- June 25, 2015
Happy 4th! Free Shipping on Online Orders Over $100
- March 27, 2015
- February 05, 2015
Sweet Specials for Valentine’s Day
- December 19, 2014
Mac’s Provincetown New Year’s Eve Tasting Menu
- November 22, 2014
Smokin’ Good Oyster Sausage Stuffing
- November 04, 2014
Taking Orders Now! THANKSGIVING TO GO at Mac’s Markets
- October 16, 2014
OysterFest Weekend at the Shack
- October 06, 2014
It’s Time for Oysters
- September 29, 2014
Mac’s On the Pier Open Thru Oct 5
- October 09, 2018
Wine Dinner Series at Mac’s Fish House
- December 16, 2013
‘Tis the Season for Whole-Roasted Monkfish
- October 02, 2013
- July 02, 2013
- June 14, 2013
Alex’s Dogfish Sandwich
- April 12, 2013
Salmon for Between the Seasons