Scallops With Cheese Grits

I love scallops, but shockingly, I am the only one in my family who does. My husband will eat them if I make them into a ceviche, my younger son will sometimes eat them, and my older son will not touch them no matter what. Because of this, I don’t make them at home as often as I would like.

Sea scallops are a sweet-salty, rich, briny seafood. When seasoned well and cooked properly (by searing quickly over high heat to obtain a perfect golden-brown crispy outer surface with a soft center) their flavor is amazing. Scallops are a protein known for their quick cooking time but are, most often, overcooked. This is what gives scallops a bad wrap. An overcooked scallop is a bad thing. Scallops should never ever be hard. Their soft, juicy texture is critical and what makes scallops so wonderful.

For this dish, I paired two of my favorite things: pan-seared scallops with cheese grits. An indulgence in ways, but this particular combination has been a favorite of mine for many years. This is a simple, rustic-style dish that is actually considered a quick meal. The technique of properly searing scallops to golden perfection takes some practice and the grits take a bit of effort, but both are worth it and together make a lovely meal any time of year.

Scallops with cheese gritsAs a chef, I often get a lot of questions about cooking scallops. I find this somewhat surprising because roasting a chicken is substantially more difficult. It’s funny, no one ever asks me about roasting a chicken. Because of all the questions, I decided to compile a list of scallop food facts, just in case you’re interested.

Facts About Scallops

  • Is it safe to eat undercooked scallops? Yes. Healthy (or fresh) scallops are pretty safe from transferable parasites unlike other bivalves, so are generally safe to eat raw. For extra saltiness, on any seafood, frozen or day-old (well handled, chilled/iced) will usually kill most parasites.
  • What color should Scallops be? In male scallops, the gland is gray/white and therefore the muscle remains white. Female scallops turn pink when they’re spawning; during this time, their glands fill with orange roe and turn coral color, giving the adductor muscle more of a rosy hue.
  • Can you eat the orange bit of a scallop? Yes. The roe has a bright coral color you can find when you buy fresh, whole scallops. The coral section can have a slightly bitter taste, which helps to cut through the richness of the rest of the scallop.
  • Are scallops healthy? Scallops are considered a low-fat seafood choice that is a good source of protein, minerals, vitamins and are low in cholesterol.
  • How can you tell if scallops are bad? Cooked scallops will usually stay good refrigerated for about 3 to 4 days or up to 4 months in the freezer. The best way  to tell if a scallop has gone bad is by smell and appearance. Signs of bad scallops are: a sour smell, dull color and slimy texture.
  • How long do you cook scallops? Surpassingly, scallops take just 4-5 minutes to cook. Seared scallops require about about two minutes per side-that’s it!
Scallops with cheese grits
About the Author

Andrea Potischman

I am a professionally trained NYC chef turned CA mom and food blogger. I post about real food, with doable ingredient lists that are family friendly.

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