How to achieve a perfectly-seared scallop...
Scallops are by far one of my favorite foods. Buttery and sweet in nature, a scallop can be comparable to a stunning woman: natural "makeup" applied to enhance it's beauty... but not overly "done-up" or manipulated.
First, scallops have a muscle that is used to attach to their shell. This must be removed before cooking, as the muscle - though small in nature - is tough and rubbery. When purchasing scallops from a market, often the muscle has been removed. If not, simply find the excess "tab" of skin and pull away gently. Discard, as the small segment (usually about an inch in size - depending on the size of the scallop) cannot be used or cooked. Pat the scallops dry with a paper towel.
Sprinkle both sides of the scallop with sea salt, a pinch of cayenne pepper and a splash of lemon juice. The acid in the lemon will help to brighten and enhance the scallop... but will not leave the scallop exuding a lemon-flavor. The purpose is simply to aid in bringing fourth the natural sweetness of the scallop.
In a sauté pan - preferable cast iron - heat ghee (clarified butter) and a touch of almond/hazelnut/walnut butter on high heat. I prefer ghee to regular butter, as it is richer in flavor and less likely to burn. I combine a small drizzle of oil in order to prevent the ghee from burning. How much? Allow the bottom of the sauté pan to be lightly coated in the ghee/butter combination. Too much and the scallops will boil, as opposed to searing... too little and the scallops will stick to the bottom of the pan. Once the ghee beings to boil and change to light brown ("beurre noisette"), then place the scallops in the high-heated pan. They should begin to sizzle immediately...
It will sound as if the scallops are applauding you...#patyourselfontheback
Do not touch the scallops after placing on the heated pan. Allow them to sear on their own terms. For medium-sized scallops, I generally allow them to sear for about 2 minutes and 30 seconds... then flip. Before flipping, gently wiggle the pan to loosen the scallops... then flip with tongs. On the second side, again - do not touch... but allow to cook for about 1-2 minutes. At this point, I will generally turn the heat off and allow the scallops to remain on the hot sauté pan for another 30 seconds - 1 minute.
This technique will allow you to achieve a golden, crispy outer skin, while leaving the inside creamy and tender. Lightly poke the scallops with the tip of your finger... if it is mushy, it needs to be cooked for an additional minute or two... it should posses a bit of resistance and bounce.
I tend to pair my scallops with vegetables or purees, as opposed to heavy pastas. Why? Since scallops are soft in texture, I like to compose the dish with a crunchy element as well. Mushrooms, asparagus, "cucumber noodles," zucchini... allow the scallop to be the star of the show. Since I had roasted butternut squash/parsnip/rutabaga puree left over from yesterday, as well as roasted butternut squash, I simply paired these root vegetables with the scallops... as well as reduced balsamic vinaigrette. A few slices of a granny-smith apple helped to provide a natural sweetness to balance the butternut squash.
"Know how to garnish food so that it is more appealing to the eye and even more flavorful than before." - Marilyn vos Savant
Love y'all dearly!!