Want to see your co-workers’ eyes light up?
It’s simple. Tell them you’re going to be cooking them some scallops.
The same trick works for family members or guests. Scallops are beloved by pretty much everyone who can eat them (shellfish allergies need not apply). And why not? They’re tender, they’re sweet, they taste ever so slightly of the sea.
They’re also easy to make, and fast – if it takes you much longer than three or four minutes to cook them, you’ve done something wrong.
The only problem is, they aren’t cheap. The ones I used for this article cost me nearly $28 a pound. They are so deliciously rich that you don’t want to eat more than a few at a time, but still: Twenty-eight bucks a pound is twenty-eight bucks a pound.
These are sea scallops I’m talking about, the large scallops. Bay scallops, the smaller ones, are about half as expensive. They are also somewhat less satisfying but are even faster to cook.
Of the four dishes I made, I used bay scallops for one. The texture did not matter much because they were whipped up in a food processor. Though I prefer sea scallops, this one was my favorite of the dishes. But I’m going to describe it last. It’s worth the wait.
I began with Seared Scallops, which is sort of an all-purpose dish. You simply heat some fat in a skillet (I used a combination of butter and olive oil, a flavorful northern Italian trick), get it hot and place the scallops in the pan. Two minutes later, you turn them over, admiring the lovely sear on top, and cook for one more minute.
That’s really all you need. I like to add lemon juice, which perks up essentially any seafood, and use a splash or two of water to make a simple deglazed pan sauce. It’s a simple dish, but because it is scallops it is spectacular.
Yield: 2 servings
6 sea scallops
Salt and pepper
1 / 2 tablespoon olive oil
1 / 2 tablespoon butter
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 / 2 cup water
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1. Pat scallops dry with paper towels. Season one side with salt and pepper.
2. Place a skillet over medium-high heat until it is very hot. Add oil and butter, and heat until butter starts to foam. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
3. Add scallops, seasoned-side down. Do not touch for 2 minutes; bottoms should have a nice brown sear. Turn and cook on the other side for 1 minute (or up to 1 1 / 2 minutes if they are extra large). Drizzle lemon juice over the top and immediately remove to a platter.
4. Add water to hot pan, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom. Cook briefly until the liquid is the consistency of syrup, and pour over scallops. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve by themselves, with rice or pasta, or as part of a salad.
Per serving: 83 calories; 6 g fat; 2 g saturated fat; 17 mg cholesterol; 5 g protein; 2 g carbohydrate; no sugar; no fiber; 152 mg sodium; 6 mg calcium