Scallops

Discussion in 'Recipes' started by redvan, Sep 14, 2011.

  1. redvan

    redvan

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    How on earth are you supposed to sear and fry scallops? Never really did it before but came across large ones at my local wholesaler and couldn't resist.

    I've tried using butter - what a mess!

    Olive oil - also not much fun.

    All I want to do is give them a nice brown sear and cooked to slight opaqueness.

    Red.
     
  2. siduri

    siduri

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    I guess the question is what do you mean by "what a mess" - did they come apart and end up a bubbling goop?  did they splash all over?  Did they taste awful?  How can we help you if we don't know exactly what happened.  You'd have to be more precise to understand what the problem is. 
     
  3. redvan

    redvan

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    siduri,

    You seem tense. I assumed that anyone who had tried to cook scallops in butter would know what I meant. My mistake.

    What happened was during cooking a brown layer, the consistency of chocolate cake batter, formed in the bottom of the pan. I had to keep scraping this up as it would stick to the scallops and ruin them. It was sticky and gooey but the scallops remained intact and were delicious.

    Then, I tried using olive oil with the same results but not nearly as bad. Again, the scallops were intact and delicious.

    Is there a particular oil to use or should I use some other liquid instead, a different pan perhaps (I was using a non-stick pan). I see them cooked on TV and the chef doesn't seem to have these issue.

    As always, any help or suggestions are greatly appreciated.

    Red.
     
  4. durangojo

    durangojo

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    i'd give you my sage advice, but the last time i answered a scallop question it seemed like guns over the bow were fired.....think Someday has it figured out though! i'l  give you a hint...pan, oil, heat.....oh, and patience...

    joey
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2011
  5. siduri

    siduri

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    Sorry if my reply was badly worded Redvan.  Often when we have a problem it seems to be obvious to us what the problem was but there are tons of things that can go wrong so i couldn't figure out what exactly did go wrong

    I think there was a thread not too long ago about wet and dry scallops and maybe someone can help you understand if the problem was with the type of scallop. 

    I was in the states this summer and was able to buy them without spending an arm and a leg, and I don't recall any problem at all in sauteeing them.  They didn't stick at all, they got brown.  I just used a little film of oil in a nonstick pan. 

    But the ones i used were definitely fresh, "dry" and firm. 
     
  6. Iceman

    Iceman

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    OK. Maybe I can help. The most common reasons I've seen for bad scallops are these: 1) pan; too hot, not hot enough 2) oil/butter; too much, not enough 3) quantity; too many in pan. I start with a hot pan; the smaller the scallop the hotter the pan. Next, I like to just use a very little oil or butter. I want nice color from good caramelization. Too much oil/butter will hurt that. Last, too many in a pan will cause a dome of heat/steam. That generally kills a good sear. 

    I hope that helps. 
     
  7. redvan

    redvan

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    IceMan,

    The scallops were fine and mighty tasty. The problem was the brown, sticky, gooey glop that formed in the bottom of the pan.

    For searing, I always preheat a pan over medium high heat until I see heat waves coming off, then add the oil and away I go. When using butter, I don't let it get too hot for obvious reasons. I know about overcrowding, which I avoid because it absorbs all the heat thus cooling off the pan, which depending on what you're searing, leads to water build up, steam and basically ruining the sear.

    However, something you said caught my attention: "...the smaller the scallop the hotter the pan." Really! So, for a large (1 1/2 - 2") scallop, I should start with a cooler pan?

    Red.
     
  8. petalsandcoco

    petalsandcoco

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    Red,

    Since they are not in the pan long and require that high heat, I continously move my pan around as well.

    Petals.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2011
  9. durangojo

    durangojo

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    red,

    ok so i couldn't resist....do you flour dredge your scallops? do you wash them? if you're washing them, don't, or at least pat them dry...scallops will absorb the water... i do a light dredge but was told recently that the trend nowadays is to cook naked( but they may have been referring to a dress code!)......personally i think the flour dredging helps with the color, moisture retention and not sticking to the pan...i don't dredge bay scallops, only sea scallops, as bay scallops take such little time and you don't need to especially if its part of a dish like tossed with pasta...lemon, garlic, basil, white wine...that sort of thing...when i cook sea scallops i don't move them or disturb the pan til its time to turn...as everyone else has said...wait til the oil in the pan is very hot.... and do not overcook!

    joey
     
  10. redvan

    redvan

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    joey,

    No dreging. When I got them home, they were swimming in their own juices (or some sort of milky liquid) so I gave them a quick rinse and then into the pan - when using butter, it wasn't too hot, low medium to medium heat at best. for the oil, quite hot, medium high. I probably should have dried them first but that still wouldn't have made that brown goo - that's what I'm trying to figure out, what was that brown gooey stuff!

    Anyway, since they were large (sea scallops) I didn't fuss with them, they went it and when they released, they got flipped.

    They were delicious.

    Red.
     
  11. Iceman

    Iceman

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    With my lower heat for larger scallops I'm talking "hot" vs "screaming hot". I try to match the time and heat with the size to give a nice sear color on a cooked scallop. I don't like "over-cooked", but I dislike raw even more. I wash my scallops first and then dry them as much as possible. Your "brown, sticky, gooey glop that formed in the bottom of the pan" is coming from some liquid reacting with the oil or butter. I think. I'll say again that I use very little oil or butter. Consider it like a condimental agent, not something for any real flavor. A scallop with a good sear will/should release from the pan, so there shouldn't be a need for a lubricant. I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin', but I've never really gotten any good color/sear on anything from moving the pan around a lot. Another point I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin', is that for the price I pay for the quality of scallops that I like, I'm not dredging with anything. Maybe if I'm buying an economy scallop that needs some flavoring then OK, but not regularly. On a completely different reservation, a number of Asian dishes that include scallops do get dredging, but that is for the flavor I am trying to add. 
     
  12. redvan

    redvan

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    IceMan,

    Thank you for answering my question about the goop.

    So I learned scallops get seared in very little oil/butter over heat based on their size and do get rinsed but must be dry going in.

    Thank you very much.

    Red.
     
  13. Iceman

    Iceman

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    Well ... You learned one(1) guy's opinion, yeah mine. That's the way I like to do scallops. Please remember though, that I'm only one(1) of the many in entire scallop-eating world (as said in my cousin Vinny's voice), and there are many other valid opinions and techniques out there too. 

    You're welcome, I'm glad I could help.
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2011
  14. petemccracken

    petemccracken

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    Some scallops need rinsing, some don't, but they ALL need to be dry before they hit the pan!
     
  15. durangojo

    durangojo

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    just curious red,

     what did you do with the milky white liquid the scallops came with? ok, next time save it/freeze it for something else..it's pure liquid juicy gold...freeze it to use in seafood chowders, or linguine with seafood or something..god, i just hate to see all that wonderfulness go down the drain.....tell me you didn't do that, right?...did you fiqure out the goo thingy ?

    joey
     
  16. pohaku

    pohaku

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     One reason for your outcome maybe wet pack scallops.  Scallops are usually sold as either wet or dry pack.  Wet pack scallops have been soaked in STP - sodium tripolyphosphate - an additive that helps them to retain moisture longer and gives them a longer shelf life.  Unfortunately, the liquid retention makes them more difficult to sear properly.  STP treated scallops are quite common and you can usually tell them if they are not marked because they are often sitting in a substantial pool of milky liquid.  They also tend to be more rubbery in texture.  Based on your description, it sounds like you got wet pack scallops.  If you want scallops that sear well, avoid the STP treated ones and buy dry pack.  They usually cost a bit more, but they are worth it.  And as others have mentioned, dry them well before cooking and use very little fat.
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2011
  17. chefedb

    chefedb

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    I would not retain the packing liquid on wet pac scallops, as it contains preservatives and assorted chemicals. Drain scallops rinse in cold water, let sit a while in collander or strainer then gently pat dry. I saute in clarrified butter so as to not have milk solids or water in the pan. Thepan is medium hot. Scallops should be cooked med-rare as overcooked they are not good.Remember after you remove from the pan they still cook a bit more. When you first put in pan don'ttouch till one side is done then turn and do other side.
     
  18. redvan

    redvan

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    Wow,

    Learned a lot with this one....

    As for the milky liquid; A friend told me to dump it as it wasn't anything worth keeping. I thought it was their juice and was going to keep it for future use as suggested by durangojo but listened to the voice of reason and dumped it.

    As for the brown goop; After reading chefedb's comments, I realized the brown goop was the solids in the butter, cooking in the bottom of the pan. Next time I will use clarified butter - man, I cannot believe I didn't realize what it was!

    And lastly, they must be dry!

    All lI need to do now is find dry-packed somewhere.

    Thanks all,

    Red.
     
  19. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    Very difficult to find good scallops around here redvan.  Every once in a while I make the mistake and buy them and then regret it, as I did a few nights ago when I wanted to make seafood risotto.  They taste awful, just awful and I don't know where to get good ones so if you've found some really nice ones in the city or queens please share the name of the location.

    Besides butter and olive oil scallops are destined to be seared in bacon fat. 
     
  20. siduri

    siduri

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    Yeah, this is what i was talking about.  I think your goop is this.  Unclarified butter makes brown specks but I'd be hard put to see those as "goop"