3 Ways to Cook Scallops
Scallops are the perfect summer catch -- light, delicious, and easy to prepare.
Famous for their delicate flavor and buttery texture, scallops are the ultimate "starter seafood," says chef and conservationist Barton Seaver. He is director of the Healthy and Sustainable Food Program at Harvard School of Public Health. Scallops are also easy to prepare at home.
These nutritious delicacies are packed with protein: One 4-ounce serving provides about half the daily value women need. Scallops also offer a modest amount of heart-healthy omega-3 fats and have very little saturated fat. And they’re low in mercury, a toxic metal common in some seafood.
Fresh scallops are a treat, but frozen scallops can be delicious as well. "As soon as they hit the dock, they hit the freezer, which means they’re frozen at the peak of quality," Seaver says. To thaw scallops, he recommends placing them on a plate in the fridge, covered with a damp paper towel, on the morning of the day you plan to cook them for dinner. "I would absolutely avoid running them under cold water unless they’re wrapped in a protective plastic film."
Scallop Cooking Tips
- Remove any remaining tough muscle and membrane before cooking scallops.
- The part of the scallop usually eaten is the adductor muscle, which helps keep the shell closed.
- Bay scallops are generally smaller and typically used in soups, stews, and salads. Sea scallops are bigger and are often served seared.
- Patting scallops dry with paper towels helps them to brown as they cook.
1. Scallop Gratin
Fast and elegant, this dish works well with a mixed-green salad and crusty whole grain rolls.
Makes 6 servings
2 lbs bay or sea scallops, patted dry
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup white wine
1 cup low-sodium vegetable stock
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon (or 1 tsp dried)
pinch sea salt
freshly ground pepper
½ cup plain panko bread crumbs
3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 tbsp cooked, crumbled bacon
1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Spray six individual gratin dishes or one large dish with cooking spray. Divide scallops evenly among the gratin dishes, or place all in the large dish.
2. Heat ½ tbsp olive oil in a large nonstick skillet. Add garlic and sauté 2-3 minutes. Add wine, vegetable stock, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil and cook until reduced by half. Add tarragon, salt, and pepper. Spoon sauce over each dish.
3. Make the gratin topping: In a small bowl, combine panko, parsley, bacon, and ½ tbsp olive oil, and distribute over each dish. Bake 10-12 minutes, or until topping is golden brown.
Per serving: 255 calories, 37 g protein, 7 g carbohydrate, 5 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 79 mg cholesterol, 1 g sugar, 319 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 18%.