Scallops steam instead of sear

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Joined Feb 1, 2011
My friend has a consistent problem with cooking scallops on an induction cooktop.

They release water and steam instead of sear.

Adjusting the heat from medium high to high results in toughening the scallops and they begin to stick.

What would cause this problem - the skillet, the cooktop the scallops or all of these?
 
1,447
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scallops need to be drained and patted dry before searing or this will happen. Also happens more when using previously frozen instead of fresh.
 
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Joined Jan 4, 2011
The biggest cause I've seen for this is too many scallops in the pan. They should have room.
 
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Joined Nov 6, 2004
    In addition to the good advice above, I would suggest trying to find a better source for the scallops.  Do you have any places that sell sashimi grade fish?  If so...you may want to try there. 
 
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Joined Oct 2, 2010
It's quite a simple procedure. Put your pan on a high fire with some sunflower oil (or any other neutral oil). Wait, and hold the open palm of your hand 1 inch above the pan. It needs to feel quite hot before adding the scallops; even to the point that the oil spreads a light smoke. Only then put them in, one at a time. Cook for no longer than 10 seconds, turn them (start with the one you put in first, etc.) and cook for another 10 seconds. Remove immediately from the pan.  

Frozen scallops; defrost and dry carefully, you may have to cover them in papertowel.
 
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Joined Aug 21, 2004
It indicts scallops that were treated with chemicals such as phosphate or plumped with water or "floated" in brackish or fresh water, which makes them take on water. Dry packed scallops and proper technique should eliminate any problem.
 

phatch

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Sounds also like there could be a lack of heat. Pan could be oversized compared to the induction heating zone. Pan might not be compatible enough with the induction cooktop. By which I mean it's a little bit magnetic, but not enough to really heat up properly.

Cooktop could be under powered or  faulty.
 
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Joined Jan 31, 2011
I can't add much to what others have said, except to suggest using an iron skillet instead of stainless (or whatever your friend is using now). It could take as long as 10 minutes for the pan to get to the proper temperature.
 
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Joined Feb 1, 2007
Non-searing of scallops is almost always a result of using non-dry scallops.

In my experience (which seems to run counter to what others imply), no amount of drying "conditioned" scallops will allow them to sear. As soon as they hit the heat they start releasing more liquid. Stands to reason, as, depending on packer, as much as 30% of the weight in treated scallops is in added liquid.
 
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Might it help to allow them to stand, uncovered, in the refrigerator for an hour or so before cooking?
 
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Joined Feb 1, 2007
It's worth a try, Granny. But I'm not very confident. Dry packed is the only way to assure proper searing. Alas, I've never seen them available in central Kentucky.
 

phatch

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I generally get them frozen from Costco. And they say they're dry packed and I've not had trouble searing them. Might look into Costco.
 
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Joined Jan 31, 2011
It's worth a try, Granny. But I'm not very confident. Dry packed is the only way to assure proper searing. Alas, I've never seen them available in central Kentucky.
The only place I've seen good ones is at the Winn Dixie in Pikeville, but that's quite a hike. They had wonderful froglegs, too, almost as big as chicken legs..
 

pete

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Unfortunately, not all of us have easy access to dry-pack scallops.  I used to when I lived in Chicago, but here, in the middle of Wisconsin, it is quite a drive to get them.  So second best is to follow the advice above.  One thing I do, is as I dry them between sheets of paper toweling is to slightly weigh them down.  This will help expell some of the moister.  Then I use a mix of 2/3's oil and 1/3 butter.  The butter helps to brown them some.  And then only a couple in the pan at one time.  Even if cooking up a bunch of them, it doesn't take long as scallops cook pretty quickly. 
 
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Joined Jul 28, 2001
Most Chefs are going to scream at me and tell me to" get back in the pastry shop" BUT, if you strain and dry

the scallops then dust them with a little cornstarch they brown up fine. By dusting, I mean putting the starch

in a towel and tapping, not rolling them.

I can still see my grandmother doing this.

pan
 
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Joined Feb 1, 2011
Exactly how does one recognize dry-packed scallops?   I found frozen sea scallops at Sams's Club, but ingredients say only sea scallops, salt. 
We are in the florida panhandle - our bay scallops come from right here.  The sea scallops come from a local fish market that does not carry frozen fish.

Should we suppose that these are all treated?

Thanks everyone, for all your helpful comments!
 

phatch

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If they include sodium tripolyphosphate as an ingredient, they're wet pack. You should have dry pack in that Sam's package.
 
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