Searing scallops

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by ivanthetrble, Oct 10, 2013.

  1. ivanthetrble

    ivanthetrble

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    Hi all,

    Little background.  I have been trying to perfect my technique with searing scallops.  I have always done the following:

    1 - get the scallops as dry as possible (avoid those soaked in that nasty white liquid, yuck!)

    2 - hot pan, put a little EVOO in the pan, then a small pat of butter, melt

    3 - scallops in 2-3 minutes on the first side, about 1-2 on the second side.

    This works OK but never get a really great golden sear.  I suspect my pan may not be hot enough.  I recently got an IR temperature gun and would like a little input to make the end product a bit more consistent.  How hot should the pan be to get a good sear on scallops?  350-ish??  Other suggestions more than welcome.  Thanks!

    ITT
     
  2. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    You're halfway there with the dry processed scallop and drying them. 

    350 really isn't that hot and olive oil and butter aren't the right oils/fats to start with as they have a low smoke point. And the idea of mixing butter to with an oil to raise the butter's heat tolerance is a myth. The butter solids still burn at the same temperature they always do. 

    Heat the pan 'til HOT. Add the oil and use a neutral tasting oil with a high smoke point. If you want some of that butter flavor, once you've turned them, you can add some butter to the pan and then butter baste them. The pan should have lost enough heat at this point that the butter won't burn. 

    If you use clarified butter for your fat at the start of cooking, that's fine. It can take the heat, but it doesn't have the flavor you seem to want from the butter. 

    See also  http://www.cooksillustrated.com/recipes/article.asp?docid=21014  for some more details on the explanation. Recipe is behind a pay wall, but I don't think you need their recipe. 
     
  3. ivanthetrble

    ivanthetrble

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    Good to know about the fat.  Canola oil a better choice?
     
  4. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    In general, yes.  

    A few folks find that canola can have a fried fish sort of flavor when used this way. Others fear the GMO background of modern canola production though non-GMO canola oil is also available. 
     
  5. french fries

    french fries

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    I am one of those folk, and so is my wife. IMO it's a pretty obvious smell, so I'm surprised so many people don't mind it. I personally prefer using Grapeseed oil. 
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2013
  6. dcarch

    dcarch

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    Getting a good sear on scallops is simple.

    First get a clear understanding of the science of cast iron skillets. Don't be confused by :"good heat retention". what it really means is "poor heat conductor"

    They make cast iron cookware thick and heavy because thin cast iron cracks. Being thick, it keeps a lot of BTUs, being a poor heat conductor, it can't get heat up fast enough to sear both sides of the scallops.

    So, when I have to sear scallops well, I use two cast iron skillets.

    Sear one side of the scallop on one skillet when the other gets red hot, then move the scaollps to the other hot skillet to sear the other side.

    dcarch
     
  7. teamfat

    teamfat

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    So is cooking the perfect steak /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif

    mjb.
     
  8. kaiquekuisine

    kaiquekuisine

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    yuck , canola oil

    I use soybean oil ( 460 degree smoke point ) , just because canola really does have a horrible taste , especially with fish. 

    You could also use grapeseed oil ( 421 smoke point ) , or cottonseed oil ( 420 smoke point ) as well. 

    The oils with the highest smoke point go in this order ( highest to least )

    -Soybean (460)

    -Corn (450)

    -Sunflower (440)

    -Peanut (437)

    -Grapeseed (421)

    -Cottonseed (420)

    -Canola (400)

    Also i usually use a well seasoned pan ( just a habit ).  
     
  9. ivanthetrble

    ivanthetrble

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    In the past I was using a SS CIA pan to sear scallops but just got a Le Creuset cast iron pan so think I will give that a run instead.  Sounds like you want to flip the scallops onto a previously unused part of the pan and leave lots of room between them.  As with a lot of cooking, it is really simple but the devil is in the details.  Poaching a egg should be the easiest thing on earth but getting it right is another matter.  Thanks for all the input.  I will try grapeseed oil the next go round.
     
  10. dcarch

    dcarch

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    The other trick is this:

    Focus on giving the scallops a fantastic crust on one side, and don't worry too much about the other side. No one ever checks to see if you have a good sear on the bottom side. But they will notice right away if you over cooked the scallops.

    dcarch
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2013
  11. dillbert

    dillbert Banned

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    there's a lot more high temp oil choices

    400F.......    204C.......    Canola oil, Refined
    400F.......    204C.......    Walnut oil, Semi-refined
    405F.......    207C.......    Olive oil, High quality(low acidity) extra virgin
    410F.......    210C.......    Sesame oil
    420F.......    216C.......    Cottonseed oil
    420F.......    216C.......    Grapeseed oil
    420F.......    216C.......    Virgin olive oil
    420F.......    216C.......    Almond oil
    425/437F...     218C.......     Red Palm Oil, virgin
    430F.......    221C.......    Hazelnut oil
    440F.......    227C.......    Peanut oil
    440F.......    227C.......    Sunflower oil
    450F.......    232C.......    corn oil, Refined
    450F.......    232C.......    Sunflower oil - high-oleic, Refined
    450F.......    232C.......    Peanut oil, Refined
    450F.......    232C.......    Sesame oil, Semi-refined
    450F.......    232C.......    Soy oil, Refined
    450F.......    232C.......    Sunflower oil, Semi-refined
    450F.......    232C.......    Coconut oil, Refined
    460F.......    238C.......    Olive pomace oil
    468F.......    242C.......    Olive oil, extra light
    490F.......    254C.......    Rice Bran oil
    495F.......    257C.......    Soybean oil
    510F.......    266C.......    Safflower oil
    520F.......    271C.......    Avocado oil

    my personal choice would be safflower as it is very taste neutral - and easy to find, as least in my area.

    also note there are various 'sources' that will differ on oil to temp; descriptive modifiers may or may not be used - for big differences that the usual source; 5-10' differences I consider "the same"

    I've done them (on a gas top) in stainless and in cast iron - I think the cast iron is a bit easier after it is well seasoned. 

    a part of this is also what your goal is - I've seen scallops I would not describe as seared - "charred" would be a better description - getting the medium brown crispy isn't too difficult, getting the 1/4 thick charred layer takes mega-heat - frankly don't care for that approach but it sometimes appears in eateries to demonstrate the kitchen proficiency thing . . . .
     
  12. durangojo

    durangojo

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    If i am cooking diver or sea scallops I dredge them lightly in flour.....sometimes with with a bit of polenta in the mix as well as it adds a nice little crust, texture and insures by protection, a wonderful and perfectly moist scallop inside. I use a
    canola /olive oil blend at the restaurant because that's what i use at the restaurant for sautéing. at home, i use grapeseed oil, cuz that's what i have at home.

    joey

    Not a picture perfect photograph but you get the idea......

    'Polenta dusted sea scallops with roasted poblano white cheddar sauce and sweet olathe corn casserole'
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2013
  13. vic cardenas

    vic cardenas

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    I don't think you need really high heat or a special pan or oil specifically just for scallops. At the country club we would preheat a large aluminum pan with a veg oil blend and herbed butter. The sear was simple and easy and quick. Cooking them perfectly was easy. The crust always turned out perfect. Too much heat with any oil will char the outside and undercook the middle. There's nothing to it really.
     
  14. chefedb

    chefedb

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    Nice I like your method best of all  unless patron is wheat intollerant
     
  15. durangojo

    durangojo

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    For the gluten free diners chefedb, i dredge just in the polenta.
     
  16. kaiquekuisine

    kaiquekuisine

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    I know there are more oils i have friends who work in this business ,and my town hosts an oil festival yearly <_<

    I just listed the few i use ( and are more common and easier to find internationally and here where i live) that popped into my head. 

    At the restaurant we use an Olive Oil blend , at home its usually soybean or cotton seed oil. 

    Joey i too use the flour dusted technique at home , works like a charm
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2013
  17. dillbert

    dillbert Banned

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    >>oils

    once upon a time I kept a pantry full of various oils.  after many years of sheepoling after 'the current fad" I learned for the home kitchen, one off use, no deep fryer with 50 gallons of oil to filter and/or replace, it's as you say, not all that terribly important.

    now, I keep extra virgin for salads & dressings - and I'm really picky about my extra virgin as the taste varies wildly.

    and plain ole olive oil - a brand with a nicely neutral flavor profile - which I use for everything except pan-southern-fried chicken and deep frying the odd batch of batter/butterflied shrimp - using a pot full of oil one-time-tossed makes olive oil too expensive, I use a low cost vegetable oil.

    high smoke point is important where the oil is used and reused - long-term/repeat exposure will cause low temp oils to taste funny.

    well, there's also the "free radical" issue for some; I'm thinking something else will kill me before any of those freed radicals reach my neighborhood.
     
  18. altahoe

    altahoe

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    I like to use extra-virgin coconut oil - it has a mild flavor that goes good with the scallops.