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 cook 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 anytime of year.
As a chef I often get a lot of questions about cooking scallops. I find this somewhat suprising because roasting a chicken is substancially 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:
Where do sea scallops come from?
Is it safe to eat undercooked scallops?
What color should Scallops be?
Can you eat the orange bit of a scallop?
Are scallops healthy?
How can you tell if scallops are bad?
How long do you cook scallops?
Pan Seared Scallops With Cheese Grits
- For the Scallops:
- 2 pounds sea scallops
- 2 tablespoons extra Virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- salt and pepper
- 1 bunch fresh chives, finely chopped
- micro arugula (or similar) for garnish (optional)
- For the Cheese Grits:
- 2 cups milk
- 2 cups water
- 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup coarse ground cornmeal
- 1 garlic clove, grated
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup mild cheddar cheese, shredded
- Step 1 For the scallops: Rinse the scallops and pat dry with paper towel. Season with salt and pepper.
- Step 2 Place the olive oil and butter in a medium cast iron skillet and place over high heat. When hot, but not smoking, add the scallops and sear for about 90 seconds until you see a nice brown crust form. Gently flip the scallops and cook about 90 seconds more. Remove from the heat, place on a plate and reserve.
- Step 3 For the Cheese Grits: In a medium saucepan add the milk, water and salt, place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Add the cornmeal and garlic and mix to incorporate. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, while stirring regularly until creamy and almost all the liquid as been absorbed, about 25 minutes. Remove from the heat and mix in the cheese.
- Step 4 To serve, spoon a generous amount of cheese grits in desired serving bowls. Top with the seared scallops, garnish with chopped chives and micro arugula.