Seared Scallops With Briny Tartar Sauce

Foodista Cookbook Entry

Category: Main Dishes | Blog URL:

This recipe was entered in The Foodista Best of Food Blogs Cookbook contest, a compilation of the world’s best food blogs which was published in Fall 2010.


1/2 cup light mayonnaise, preferably Hellmann's Light
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped cornichons
1 teaspoon cornichon brine
1 tablespoon capers
1 teaspoon caper brine
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning the scallops
1 1/2 pounds large sea scallops
1 tablespoon macadamia nut or canola oil


In medium bowl or measuring cup, combine mayonnaise, yogurt, parsley, lemon juice, cornichons, cornichon brine, capers, caper brine, lemon zest, salt, and pepper; blend well.
Place scallops in colander and rinse under cold running water to eliminate any grit. Pat dry thoroughly between layers of paper towels and transfer to medium-sized bowl. Add oil and toss to coat. Season generously with salt and pepper.
Heat large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add scallops 1 at a time-- distributing them around skillet so they do not touch. Scrape any remaining oil onto scallops.
Cook until golden brown on both sides, about 6 minutes total. For best results, turn only once--using a plastic spatula to loosen them without losing the crust. Serve immediately, with a dollop of the sauce.




Bay scallops get all the glory. Their season is short; they're rare and pricey. But for healthy cooking, give me scallops from the sea! Why? SURFACE AREA. Not to go too mathematical on you, but surface area is the key to cooking scallops in very little fat.

Successful searing requires a certain amount of fat per unit area. The smaller the scallops, the greater their aggregate surface area, and the more fat you need to coat that surface.The fat forms a barrier around the scallops that helps them retain their water. If there's too little fat to coat them, they'll simply release their water and steam instead of sear, and you'll never get them to caramelize. Sea scallops have a smaller total surface area, so searing them requires less fat. Make sense?

Now, this dish is all about the caramelization. It brings out the sweetness of the scallops, which balances the salty-briny flavor of the sauce. It also adds a thin crust that sets off the scallops' creamy interior. Finally, the little flecks of gold make them look as good as they taste. You want your scallops dry and your skillet hot. After coating them with oil, place your scallops in the skillet one at a time--spaced so they don't touch each other. When you're ready to turn them, use the edge of a plastic spatula inserted under the crust, as close to the skillet surface as possible. Caramelize or bust!




Wednesday, February 24, 2010 - 5:48pm


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